Ace marksman John Sands has admitted he is looking to leave Bury Town this summer in search of a professional football career.
The Blues — who visit table-topping Whitehawk tomorrow (3pm) and host Suffolk rivals Lowestoft Town on Tuesday (7.45pm) — got themselves back into the play-off race thanks to a winning goal from the Ryman Premier’s top scorer at Wealdstone on Tuesday to close the gap on the top five to three points.
With their promotion challenge reignited and two huge games looming, chairman Russell Ward admitted it was ‘the wrong time to be upsetting the applecart’, particularly with Sands, 26, under contract at Ram Meadow for another season.
“Over the last month or so I’ve had reports of interest and scored a few goals,” said the former Mildenhall Town forward, who has scored 49 goals in 84 appearances since swapping Recreation Way for Ram Meadow. “I want to give it a go at a higher level before I get too old and while I’m in good form — I don’t want that chance to be lost.
“I know I’m under contract for another year, but can a piece of paper stand in the way of someone going on to play at a higher level?”
Bury chairman Russell Ward and manager Richard Wilkins stated they would not stand in the way of Sands should a club come in for him, citing the moves of the likes of Ian Miller, Ben Coker and Nick Pope into the Football League.
Sands, who said he had been told by an agent that League One club Hartlepool United would be watching him at Whitehawk tomorrow, insists he will remain completely committed to Bury Town until the summer.
“I think the lads all understand and know that the last few games haven’t changed me,” he said. “I haven’t gone off the boil, I’m still giving 110 per cent per game and want the lads and Bury Town to do as well as possible.
“I like to do things professionally — I don’t like to tread on anyone’s toes or upset anyone.”
Wilkins also warned the striker that he needs to ‘calm down a little bit’ and wait for the right move to come along.
“It didn’t need to be said and is totally irrelevant because he’s still at Bury Town, so I’ll take it with a pinch of salt,” said the Blues’ boss, who had seen his side bounce back from a damaging defeat by Cray Wanderers to take four points from promotion-chasing Wealdstone in four days.
“We are in a good frame of mind, but it’s still a tough ask for us to make the play-offs,” added Wilkins. “We may be up against it, but sometimes that’s when we are at our best.
“There is no pressure on us — no-one expects us to make the play-offs.”
Long-term absentees Billy Clark (ankle) and Callum Kearns (knee) are the Blues’ only injury concerns for this week, but experienced midfielder John Kennedy is suspended for the clash with Lowestoft.
n Meanwhile, in Ryman One North, Needham Market ended a run of four consecutive defeats since Danny Laws left to get their first success under returning boss Mark Morsley.
Promotion-chasing Maldon and Tiptree beat the Marketmen 1-0 on Saturday, with a goal from James Robinson, but Morsley’s men recovered to see off Waltham Forest by the same score on Tuesday thanks to a solitary strike from Ollie Fenn.
Needham next face Thamesmead Town tomorrow (3pm) before travelling to Romford on Wednesday (7.45pm).
The Suffolk side are 13th in the Ryman One North table.