THE transfer window for permanent signings may have closed until January but Bury boss David Flitcroft is hoping to line up his next loan targets at an international scouting mission.
Flitcroft and his coaching staff have delayed their trip down to Saturday’s opponents Wycombe to take in England Under-18s’ match against Holland at the JD Stadium tomorrow night.
The Shakers boss has revealed he came within a whisker of tying up former England youth starlet Hallam Hope on a season-long loan before Championship side Sheffield Wednesday swooped for the 20-year-old Everton striker.
Hope, who scored 18 goals in 32 appearances for the Young Lions, between U16s and U19s level, bagged five in seven matches – including his first ever senior hat-trick – during a loan spell at Bury last season.
And Flitcroft is now hoping to identify players from the next batch of England hopefuls that he feels are ready to make the step up into senior league football.
“Hallam Hope, you will be very surprised how close we were, we were very close,” he said.
“It was right at the last hour that Sheffield Wednesday have come in. We were the closest team barring Sheffield Wednesday to getting that deal done and believe me he wanted to come back here.
“The boys go down to Wycombe on Friday, they will travel down after training, but all of my staff are staying back to see what we can learn from the game and what we can pick up on.”
Not that Flitcroft feels his squad is lacking in any department, after making 13 signings over the summer.
His latest capture – Duane Holmes – came on for the final 10 minutes of Saturday’s 2-1 victory over Accrington Stanley just hours after signing a four-month loan from Huddersfield Town.
The 19-year-old attacking midfielder adds to Flitcroft’s options in the final third after it was revealed Danny Nardiello would be out for up to four weeks with a groin strain and target man Clive Platt was still two weeks away from making a return.
The Bury manager also allowed left-back Joe Widdowson out on a two-month loan to Morecambe, while Andy Procter’s contract was terminated by mutual consent, allowing the 31-year-old transfer-listed midfielder to return to former club Accrington Stanley.
That left the Shakers with a squad of 22 first-team players, with Flitcroft confident he had the perfect balance to challenge in League Two, as well as scope to bring in loan players.
“We’ve got cover everywhere, we really have,” said the Bury boss, mindful he would only be taking two genuine strikers in Danny Rose and Ryan Lowe down to face fifth-placed Wycombe.
“We’ve got Nicky (Adams) who can play as an inside forward and Danny Rose is playing exceptionally at the minute. But the loan window has shut down for one week only and then we start again.”