Jon McCarthy launched a staunch defence of his intentions to offer much of the current Chester FC squad new deals for next season.
All of the Blues players are out of contract at the Lookers Vauxhall Stadium come the end of the season and the Chester boss has held talks with his squad over where their futures lie.
The Chronicle understands that a significant number of the current group will be offered fresh terms next season but the club are yet to announce any confirmed retainees and McCarthy has remained coy on just who he is looking to bring back.
With the club having endured a poor run of form since Christmas after a fine mid-season run of just one loss in 17 games, McCarthy’s faith in his players has come under fire from some sections.
But, following Tuesday’s 2-1 loss at home to Barrow , McCarthy launched a strong defence of his players and what they have achieved in the National League this season on one of the smallest budgets in the division.
He said: “There’s been some criticism from some quarters about whether these lads deserve contracts for next season, and I think they answered their critics a little bit on Saturday and I’m sure the performance did (against Barrow).
“We know where we are at and people should respect what this group of players has done on these resources. It has taken a while for some people to realise, we just got our head down and made no excuses.
“I think it has become clear where we are at in this league and I think people should actually go ‘well played’. It is frustrating for me when people start to question that.
“But I’ve not said at any point I’m retaining the whole squad. We haven’t announced anybody has been retained yet, so I haven’t retained any of the squad yet.”
With the fan-owned, part-time Blues operating on meagre resources compared to many sides in the league, McCarthy says that the side should be judged on the whole season, not just their recent form, and that there should be a degree of realisation as to where the football club stand in the National League pecking order.
“I think there needs to be a realisation of what this football club is doing,” said McCarthy, who takes his side to Torquay United on Saturday (3pm kick off).
“Look at stuff reasonably over the season and what we have done and look at the group of games and the games we have got left and think we’ll pick up some points and finish well.”