New Contract Needed For Burton Albion’s Key Men

With Burton Albion securing safety in League One for another season, efforts now must be made to renew contract for their key players.

After the 1-1 draw against Wigan Athletic in April, Burton Albion secured their League One status with three games to spare.

When Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink took over in January The Brewers were eight points adrift at the bottom of the table and many teams had three games in hand. The January transfer business done by the club was key in survival with 12 players joining to help Burton push for survival. Key decisions were made in January but new decisions must now be made on who to offer a new contract.

Key Players Must Stay Next Season

Contract Talks Underway With Key Players

The uncertainty surrounding the club and during the summer transfer window led to many players being offered short-term deals, meaning Burton has many decisions to make this summer. The players out of contract vary in quality and importance and there aren’t many obvious calls. Club legend Lucas Akins was linked with a move to Mansfield Town in January and the once-promising Ben Fox and Reece Hutchinson have barely featured this season. We take a look at the decisions the club may make and where that leaves the squad going into next season.

Burton Albion’s New Contract Decisions

Decisions To Be Made Could Shape Burton’s Future

Josh Earl

Josh Earl had a great start to his loan spell before a silly red card in a 3-0 defeat to Sunderland saw him lose the trust of Hasselbaink. He only played 1 of the next 14 matches as Tom Hamer was preferred at left-back. Earl is still a great player for this level, his attacking intent suits the type of side Burton should be looking to become and his size helps him hold his own defensively. His discipline still needs work as he’s received five yellow cards in six games but combative players are needed at this level. A lack of game time means Preston North-End may be looking to loan or sell the left-back again and Burton should be enquiring about his availability.

Verdict: Buy

Michael Mancienne

Michael Mancienne has played a key role in Burton’s revival. Signed as a free agent after the January transfer window had closed, Mancienne stood out in battling wins over Peterborough United and AFC Wimbledon. The former England U21 international quickly made himself a starter in midfield before showing his versatility in defence when Michael Bostwick got injured. Mancienne’s versatility makes a new contract a must for Burton, especially with another versatile midfielder Keiran Wallace set to miss much of next season with a knee injury.

Verdict: New Contract

Tom Hewlett

The young striker marked his first season in professional football with two appearances from the bench. He made his league debut as the only positive from a dismal 3-1 loss to Northampton Town. Hewlett’s season came to a harsh end when he broke his leg in January, requiring surgery. He should be given a new deal to allow him to recover from his injury and attempt to break into the first team next season.

Verdict: New Contract

Sean Clare

Sean Clare endured a difficult first half of the season at Oxford United but still showed glimpses of quality, providing three assists. Clare struggled to hold down a regular place in the team and even played right-back on 9 occasions. At Burton However, Clare has played every match in centre midfield. Forming partnerships with Ryan Edwards, Michael Mancienne, and Terry Taylor. He has scored one goal and registered three assists but his work rate and battling qualities have stood out the most. Depending on the success of Oxford’s promotion bid, Clare probably has a role to play at the Kassam Stadium next season so a return to Burton is unrealistic.

Verdict: Returning to parent club

Jevan Anderson

The Scottish centre-back has only played one minute in the league all season and hasn’t appeared in a squad under Hasselbaink. His last game for the club came in a 4-2 loss to Cambridge United in the EFL Trophy all the way back in October.

Verdict: Release

Michael Bostwick

Bostwick had a difficult start to his Burton career, he was a part of the worst defence in the league before Hasselbaink arrived and struggled with his fitness on occasions. It looked to be a season that would end the 32 year-olds career at this level. The arrival of Hasselbaink changed all that. Bostwick had a role now. He was to use his experience to guide the inexperienced Hayden Carter and Tom Hamer through games and use his strength to win headers from corners and Hamer’s long throws. Bostwick has performed his role admirably; keeping five clean sheets, scoring twice and also getting two assists. He has shown he definitely has a few more years left at this level and Burton should offer him a new deal.

Verdict: New Contract

Callum Hawkins

The young goalkeeper has been a professional since 2018 and hasn’t threatened to break into the first team. He’s been named on the bench three times this season but may need to drop down a few levels so he can get a regular taste of the first-team action.

Verdict: Release

Lucas Akins

The Burton Legend has had the most difficult season of his Burton Albion career but his availability and consistency mean he deserves a new deal. He can play on both flanks and even at full-back which helps Burton with the small squad their budget requires. Interest from former boss Nigel Clough at Mansfield didn’t stop Akins’ focus and he stayed loyal to the club as he has constantly during his seven years at the Pirelli Stadium. As Akins declines with age it may be fair to lower his wages but it’s time for the club to be loyal to the winger and offer him a new contract.

Verdict: New contract

John-Joe O’Toole

John-Joe O’Toole had a solid first season at Burton last season but this year has been a disaster. His poor form in the first half of the season means he hasn’t played since a 1-0 win over Gillingham in Hasselbaink’s first game in charge. He played well that day but an injury, the resurgence of Bostwick, and the signing of Mancienne stopped him from making any sort of impression. It’s time for O’Toole to leave and find a new home where he can get some playing time.

Verdict: Release

Owen Gallacher

Arriving from Nottingham Forest after a trial period in September, Owen Gallacher earned himself a contract extension till the end of the season with some promising performances under Jake Buxton. Able to play on the wing but primarily a Left-back Gallacher offers good depth with the potential to be a starter. He won’t demand a high wage so giving him a new contract should be a no-brainer.

Verdict: New Contract

Ryan Edwards

Burton’s player of the season is already in talks for a deserved new deal and one should be announced soon. He’s the biggest success story of Hasselbaink’s reign after really struggling during the first half of the campaign. Edwards operated in an attacking midfield role under Hasselbaink but had more defensive responsibility than a traditional number 10. He led Burton’s press and never stopped running. His season is summed up brilliantly by a late goal against Northampton where he ran from his own half after clearing a corner, dribbled past three players, and slotted the ball into the corner.

Verdict: New contact

Reece Hutchinson

Reece Hutchinson has had a strange season. His fitness has been unclear and he’s only played 8 minutes in the league. An EFL trophy game in which he registered an assist was the only time Hutchinson started this season. The left-back missed time before the game against Fulham Under-23s with a metatarsal injury but it’s unclear why he hasn’t featured since then. It would good of the club to give Hutchinson another year’s contract or at least let him use their facilities so he can sort out whatever is stopping him from playing and get his once-promising career back on track.

Verdict: New Contract

Ben Fox

Another academy graduate, Ben Fox’s career has stalled somewhat this season. He started the season as the backup right-back but fell out of that role with some poor performances. Next, he featured in midfield but teenager Ciaran Gilligan was often selected ahead of him. He was then loaned to Barnet but a red card on his debut and then the National League’s suspension meant his loan was cut short. It appears Fox is fit, as he was an unused substitute against Shrewsbury in March, but he isn’t in Hasselbaink’s plans so it’s time for him to leave.

Verdict: Release

Ben Garrett

Ben Garrett has become Burton Albion’s number one goalkeeper this season. Garrett started the season in goal before losing his place to last year’s number one Keiran O’Hara after a poor performance against Northampton Town. When Hasselbaink arrived, Garrett was restored to the line-up and made the position his own with a series of man-of-the-match performances. Since Burton secured survival, O’Hara has returned to the team but even if Garrett isn’t the number one he should still be signed on as a very capable backup.

Verdict: New contract

Colin Daniel

Colin Daniel has struggled ever since joining Burton but was given a new contract last summer. The left-back did actually play quite well to start the season, scoring against Aston Villa, but defensive reinforcements have seen Daniel fail to make a squad since January.

Verdict: Release

Hayden Carter

Blackburn Rovers loanee Hayden Carter has only been at Burton since January but has already made a great impression on the Burton Albion fanbase. He was voted runner-up in the Supporters Player Of The Year award. Carter has helped turn Burton’s defence from the worst in the division to one of the best. He’s also chipped in at the other end of the field, scoring four goals. Carter has been an important player for Burton and everyone would welcome him back but it’s not a realistic idea. The Centre-Back’s next challenge is to break into the Balckburn squad.

Verdict: Returning to parent club

Danny Rowe

Danny Rowe has been an interesting signing ever since he joined in February. He’s mainly been used from the bench and has started to find his form recently. His close control and work rate saw him play a key role in the 5-2 victory against Fleetwood Town. However, his end product has been an issue, He hasn’t registered a goal or an assist or created any big chances for his teammates. Rowe wouldn’t be a bad signing if Burton were to resign him but it may be sensible to scout the market for better options.

Verdict: Release

Luke Varney

The player-coach only played four times so it may be time for him to call it a day on his playing career

Verdict: Release

Ryan Broom

Ryan Broom has struggled for consistent game time in his loan spell from Peterborough United. However, Broom scored 2 goals from the bench and at 24 years old it may be worth seeing if Hasselbaink can develop Broom any further. He failed to impress at Peterborough earlier this season so they could be willing to sell for a discount price.

Verdict: Buy

Kieran Wallace

Kieran Wallace was having a mixed season before tearing his Anterior Cruciate Ligament in an important 2-1 win over Charlton. He’d suffered lots of niggling injuries that stopped him from getting in any sort of rhythm. Wallace can still be a great squad player when he returns with his ability to play a number of positions at a high level so Burton should extend his contract.

Verdict: New Contract

Mike Fondop

Mike Fondop joined the club in February and has become a cult hero at the Pirelli Stadium. His strength has given Burton a new dimension and he’s allowed Burton to rest top goalscorer, Kane Hemmings, without moving Lucas Akins off the wing. At 27-years-old, Fodop is a late debutant into league football but his performances so far have suggested much more can be expected from target-man next season.

Verdict: New Contract

*Dillion Barnes and Joshua Parker have also left the club but did not feature in this article 

Burton Albion 2021/22 Predicted Squad

Goalkeepers: Kieran O’Hara, Ben Garrett

Defenders: John Brayford, Josh Earl, Michael Mancienne, Tom Hamer, Michael Bostwick, Reece Hutchinson, Owen Gallacher

Midfielders: Kieran Wallace, Jonny Smith, Ryan Edwards, Ryan Broom, Joe Powell, Terry Taylor

Attackers: Kane Hemmings, Lucas Akins, Mike Fondop, Tom Hewlett






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