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Atkinson's Loan Boost

By: Rob Sedgwick
Date: 31/01/2008

ALAN Buckley has extended defender Rob Atkinson's loan at Blundell Park until the end of the season, a tremendous piece of news given the form of the on-loan Barnsley defender since November. While Atkinson stays, striker Isaiah Rankin has left Grimsby and will join Conference side Stevenage Borough.

Atkinson's arrival at the club, along with Sam Hird, has coincided with a massive turnaround in form of the Mariners, chiefly resulting from conceding a lot less goals rather than scoring a lot more. The 20-year-old has formed a great partnership with Fenton and Newey in the back three, and with Ryan Bennett pressing for a starting place, as well as Justin Whittle, Grimsby now have competition for places in a position they seemed light on when the season started. Sam Hird's loan ends in February, but the Doncaster defender has turned down a season long loan. Hird has been less impressive than Atkinson, but there are very few players at the club who can operate as a right wing-back, so it would have been good to extend the Doncaster defender's loan further - hopefully a further loan signing could be made rather than waste Bennett in that position.

Rankin ironically started the season as first choice striker, but by Christmas was bottom of the pile, when he was fit. It's a minor miracle that any club is willing to sign the 29-year-old who has been plagued by injury for at least two years, but Grimsby have released Rankin from his contract so that he can join the Conference outfit.

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