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Lennie Takes The Strain

By: Stephen Bateman
Date: 11/03/2001

AFTER witnessing his side succumb to their third home defeat in their last five matches, troubled Mariners' boss Lennie Lawrence has hinted that he could be about to gamble on bringing a young lower-division striker to the club in an effort to resuscitate Grimsby's attempts to stave off relegation.

Lawrence suggested that such a deal is unlikely to be completed before Tuesday's crunch clash with Wimbledon, and once again re-iterated the severity of the club's current plight.

"The deadline's two weeks away," said the Grimsby boss during a post-match press conference.

"I can get a 19, 20, or 21-year-old striker with virtually no league experience. Any other player coming here on-loan knows that we couldn't possibly buy them.

"I'm limited to those types of players. I could bring one in within the next ten days and maybe a bit of pace, maybe just something different might help us through - even if the boy's got no experience.

"My instinct up to now has said no," he continued, "I've got five strikers here and you're duty-bound to give them all a go."

Lawrence, who is undeniably beginning to show the strain of being forced to work under such constraints, then went on to bemoan the fact that Leeds striker Lee Matthews will not be made available for selection.

"He can't play in a reserve game and they won't loan him - it's either a permanent deal or not. I'd like to make it a permanent deal, but at the moment I'm struggling to do so.

"It really is a nonsense. I'm being asked to bring in a 20 or 21-year-old striker and throw him in ahead of the five strikers that I've got here.

"It's laughable, but that's what I'm facing," added the former Middlesbrough boss, clearly unhappy at the lack of funds being made available to him.

Lawrence then went on to give a further indication that the club is on the verge of entering a crisis as he admitted that the situation which has seen him forced to negotiate with 11 players over contract renewals has got out of hand.

"The business with the other players that are out of contract is beginning to concern me greatly.

"Both on the field and off it. That's all I want to say about that," concluded the beleagured Grimsby boss.

With The Mariners presently just four points away from the foot of the table and no cash in the Blundell Park coffers, Lawrence finds himself in an unenviable position.

Some fans have already raised the question of a rift developing between the Grimsby management and the under-fire board of directors - an issue that both the club and Lawrence vociferously denied.

It seems, however, that with Grimsby's persistent frustration in the transfer market, Lawrence is merely a passenger in a vehicle that is rapidly spinning out of control and the question of whether or not the Grimsby boss is willing to work under such restraint is one that will persist.

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