RICHARD Wilkins paid tribute to Kieran Leabon after Bury Town announced they would be releasing the striker this week.
The 23-year-old, who joined from Histon in the 2009/10 season, was one of the Blues’ top earners and Wilkins admitted that was one of the deciding factors in moving the forward on.
Despite becoming the target of some boo boys in the Ram Meadow crowd in the final weeks of his career, Leabon will forever be remembered for his final-day hat-trick against Marlow that guided Bury to the Southern League Division One Central title.
Wilkins – who is talking to other players this week who may potentially be moved on – said: “Kieran has done brilliantly for us for three years and if we were in a position to have a bigger squad then we would have given him another year.
“But we have to do what we have to do to move a few players on and get some in.”
Leabon found his game time diminshed since Bury signed top-scorer John Sands from Mildenhall Town, but still made 32 starts and 12 substitute appearances this season, scoring 10 times and setting up nine goals.
However, his opportunities in the closing weeks of the season were limited and he only managed a combined 25 minutes on the field for the Ryman Premier play-off semi-final and Suffolk Premier Cup final, Bury’s two biggest matches of the season.
“I probably should have utilised him more in the last few weeks and rotated it a little bit,” admitted Wilkins. “He’s one of those players who needs to play regularly to get a run of form going.
“You are either going to get a fantastic performance with him or a poor one, but that’s the sort of player he is – he can be a world beater on his day.
“The door is never closed at Bury Town, but he was one of the higher earners and we couldn’t justify keeping him on that money, which we would have had to offer because he was under the age of 24.
“I have a lot of respect for him and you never know what may happen in football – he’s been a great lad and a very good performer over the years.”
n Director of football Trevor Collins confirmed Lee Reed and John Kennedy have re-signed for another season at Bury.
Collins added: “There have been other meetings, but we are looking to sort out the remainder of the squad we are looking to retain by the early part of next week.”
Reed and Kennedy join Marcus Garnham, Connor Hall, Callum Kearns, Billy Clark and John Sands in committing to the club for next season.
n Bury have also confirmed some pre-season friendlies – the highlight being a clash with npower Championship outfit Charlton Athletic on July 31 at Ram Meadow.
Blue Square Bet Premier pair Braintree Town (July 17) and Cambridge United (August 6) are also set to visit Suffolk, while the Blues are pencilled in to travel to Newmarket Town (July 13), Diss Town (July 20) and Mildenhall Town (July 27).