Talk of the Town: Grimsby's strength in depth is a double-edged sword
"WE'RE not always going to be the players' favourite people – but in general they appreciate what we're trying to do and achieve."
There was certainly more than a grain of truth in Paul Hurst's words this week on how to keep a first-team squad of more than 20 senior pros satisfied.
By their own admission, the Grimsby Town bosses have assembled a strong squad with which to challenge for promotion back to the Football League.
But how to ensure that squad remains focused, fit and – perhaps most importantly – happy, is no easy task.
This was brought into sharp focus this week with the news that striker Anthony Elding has handed in a written transfer request, while yesterday winger Louie Soares joined Ebbsfleet United on a month's loan.
Both have been frustrated by a lack of first-team opportunities and, at pivotal stages of their careers – Elding is 30, Soares 27 – need to act.
Quite rightly, professional footballers want to play football.
While for many of their counterparts in the Premier League being dropped is a dent to their ego, for Conference players it is about much more than that – it's their livelihoods.
Full-time football doesn't extend any further down the ladder than the Blue Square Bet Premier.
If players aren't cutting it at this level or impressing enough to earn new contracts, then the prospect of finding alternative employment is the next logical step. I don't know about you, but I'd be doing everything possible to get 'game time' and remain a pro footballer.
It's not a conundrum that's unique to Town by any means. But – such is the quality of the Mariners' squad – I can't envisage many other clubs in the Conference having such a challenge.
In fact, a quick scan down the Mariners' squad list and it becomes apparent that Hurst and Rob Scott could send a pretty decent second-team out for action.
Elding banged in 16 goals last season and has been the subject of an unsuccessful approach by League One Preston North End.
Soares was one of the Conference's most in-demand players just eight months ago, having netted 15 times for lowly Hayes & Yeading United before his switch to Blundell Park.
Among those also out of the current starting XI are last season's defensive linchpin Ian Miller and fellow centre-half Simon Ford, who was plying his trade in League One as recently as April.
Sam Hatton, meanwhile, played almost 50 games for AFC Wimbledon last season, and was part of the team that secured promotion to the Football League in 2011.
Town goalkeeping coach Steve Croudson has been raving about the potential of reserve stopper Greg Fleming, while talented Mariners Youth products Andi Thanoj and Dayle Southwell are also waiting patiently in the wings.
Frankie Artus, such a key member of last season's team, has been forced onto the bench by Scott Neilson's arrival on loan.
Throw in a couple of promising youngsters in, say, Josh Morrall and Ben Cuff, and that's a line-up which could arguably hold its own in the Conference.
And that's without taking into account injured striking duo Liam Hearn and Greg Pearson.
It's an impressive array of talent which could help fire the Mariners to promotion glory come May.
If that should happen the bosses will certainly be the fans' "favourite people" – if not all their squad's.