(MOST WANTED: AFC Fylde striker Danny Rowe. PICTURE: Steve McLellan)
By Jon Couch
Dave Challinor isn’t necessarily anticipating January offers for much-vaunted striker Danny Rowe – but insists any bid would not derail AFC Fylde’s promotion charge.
The Coasters boss won his battle to keep his top stars like Rowe at Mill Farm in the summer to help boost a second successive play-off challenge.
Last year, the club rejected a £175,000 bid from League Two Cheltenham Town for the 28-year-old, who followed up his 52-goal season in the National League North winning side of 2016-17 with another 25 in his first top-flight season where he helped the Coasters reach the play-off elimination stage.
Rowe continues to impress this term too with another 12 goals in the league, leaving Challinor hoping that the January transfer window passes without any further interest as his side look to build on a solid start to the new campaign.
“It’s important for us to keep our top players,” said Challinor, who himself enjoyed a successful playing career in the Football League with Tranmere, Stockport County and Bury.
“Danny is ambitious and wants to give it a go in the Football League, and there has been interest, but it would have to be the right deal for the football club and for Danny himself.
“To be honest, I don’t envisage loads of interest in January. Not many clubs are paying big transfer fees for players of Danny’s age in January, it would be seen as something of a risk.
“We have an option on his contract which, in essence, means he has 18 months left at the football club. We too have our own agenda and Danny understands it’s a business decision too and he wants to be a part of the club’s ambition to move forward.
“He showed tremendous maturity when the bid from Cheltenham failed to materialise last season.
“He didn’t let it affect him and just got his head down and continued doing what he does best, scoring goals. He’s a big part of what we do and replacing him will be extremely difficult as scoring goals is the hardest thing to do in football.
“In a way, it’s good that Danny is in the spotlight, it shows that both he and the league are heading in the right direction.”
Challinor has already suffered one blow this month after another front man, Joe Cardle, left the club to re-join his family in Scotland.
But it hasn’t stopped the 43-year-old boss looking up towards the National League higher reaches with his Coasters side having lost just two of their opening 19 matches.
“If you’d have told me at the start of the season that we would only lose two games in the first two months – and to the two top sides in Salford City and Leyton Orient – I would have certainly taken that,” added the boss.
“But we can’t and we won’t rest on our laurels. Expectation has jumped up from last season but it’s important that we keep grounded. We are not yet established enough in the National League to expect to be able to compete every season, especially when the league is getting stronger all the time.”
A third home defeat this season, to Martin Allen’s Chesterfield, ended AFC Fylde’s FA Cup hopes, just 12 months after they gave 2012-13 winners Wigan Athletic an almighty scare in last year’s first round.
But while Challinor is disappointed not to be pitting his wits against the Football League sides in this competition, he believes his side’s early exit has freshened up his squad for the gruelling winter months.
“Being without a game last week gave us the opportunity to give a few little niggles a rest and recharge our batteries for some tough games ahead,” Challinor added.
“It was disappointing to go into the little break on the back of a [3-1] defeat to Leyton Orient, but there were enough positives to take from that game to work on. Now it’s back to business.”