Trio are staying with Dolly Blues

Defender Ricky Mercer (photo: Tony North)
Defender Ricky Mercer (photo: Tony North)
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Three key players have agreed terms to stay with Lancaster City next season.

Goalkeeper Mike Hale, central defender Ricky Mercer and midfielder Billy Akrigg will all be plying their trade in Dolly Blue again come August as boss Phil Brown looks to build on a sixth-placed finish in the NPL First Division North. The trio were near ever-presents as City also reached the Lancashire FA Trophy final in a successful 2015-2016 campaign, with Akrigg named the Directors’ Player of the Year at the club’s end-of-season awards.

Hale, named the division’s best keeper in 2014-2015, was linked with a move away from Giant Axe at the start of the season but committed himself to the cause shortly after Brown replaced Darren Peacock back in October.

Former Kendal and Nelson defender Mercer has impressed alongside retiring captain Neil Marshall at the heart of the City defence, filling in as skipper whenever Marshall was absent.

Brown said: “Billy and Mike were at the club when I came in and were both mainstays of the side until the latter weeks of the season, when they missed a few games after picking up injuries.

“I’m really pleased to get Mike back on a form.

“He wins us a lot of points with his performances and his experience in the dressing room.

“Billy Akrigg is getting better and better and is what I’d call an emerging player.

“I think there’s more to come from him.

“Ricky came in midway through the season and I can’t remember him having a bad game.

“He’s been one of our most consistent performers and, like Mike, is key on the pitch and in the changing room.”

Brown is confident more will follow the trio in signing up for next season.

The Blues boss said: “I’m waiting for one or two to get back to me and some others aren’t far away.

“I’ve spoken to most of the squad ahead of next season.”

Brown, the Myerscough College head of football, is also currently working on City’s pre-season programme with an anticipated return date for the players of July 2.

Marshall and midfield star Ryan Winder were the big winners at Lancaster City’s end-of-season awards.

Marshall was named the Lancaster Guardian Sports Writers’ Player of the Year and the Supporters’ Player of the Year, while also picking up a special trophy to mark his 10 years with the club.

Winder won the Joe Stephenson Memorial Trophy while also picking up the awards for top goalscorer and the coveted Players’ Player of the Year.