Grimsby took six years to get out of the National League last time they were relegated to it in 2010, but this time around it was an instant return to the EFL for Paul Hurst’s Mariners.
With the ownership regime led by Jason Stockwood and Andrew Pettit already winning the hearts of natives, there seems a greater long-term ceiling for the Lincolnshire club in comparison to their previous Football League entity.
So, are Grimsby recruiting for mere consolidation in 2022-23, or can they set sights higher?
Before picking out the players for Hurst to target, we got the insight of the DN35 Podcast.
Firstly, how would you assess last season?
DN35: Stunning. Full of Grimsby Grit, endless twists and turns with the clubs new era under competent owners well ahead of where I could ever imagine it to be. Hurst has built a squad full of graft and determination which ended in success
What is the aim for this window and what positions would you like to see strengthened and why?
DN35: To add to the already strong core of players. We do need to add more goals both from the wings and a support for McAtee.
What should be the target for next season?
DN35: Anything above 14th would see us finish our highest since 2005-06 but given how this season went we could well go up!
With that in mind, here are my picks for the rest of the Mariners’ business…
Harvey Cartwright (Hull City) –
Stalwart James McKeown is no longer the guaranteed starter he has been in previous seasons, and some have expressed doubts about Max Crocombe’s capabilities in League Two.
Grimsby may be open, therefore, to taking a chance on Harvey Cartwright, a goalkeeper highly-rated at Hull City.
The Tigers stopper has starred on loan at Barton Town and Gainsborough Trinity, and this year represented England at Under-20s level.
A League Two loan over the road could be the perfect next step, and he could bring the quality to help Grimsby make waves in their first year back at this level.
Mustapha Carayol (Unattached) –
Signing Carayol might be something of a risk, given that injury issues prompted his release by Gillingham.
Still lurking in the 33-year-old’s game, however, are remnants of the pace, directness and quality that gave the winger a decent Championship career with Middlesbrough and Nottingham Forest.
Carayol should not be relied upon for 90 minutes every game, but if Grimsby have a training regime that will enable him to stay fit and fresh, then he could make an impact in short bursts as a rotation option for Erico Sousa and others.
Jon Nolan (Unattached) –
Nolan was part of the Grimsby side that won promotion from the National League in 2015-16, before then following Hurst to Shrewsbury, where he played a pivotal role as they narrowly missed out on promotion from League One.
The creative midfielder then followed Hurst again to Ipswich, where things did not work out for either party and the 30-year-old has since had a tough few seasons – culminating in his release from Bristol Rovers.
Hurst clearly believes in Nolan though and may want to work with him again, if he wants to add extra playmaking qualities to his competitive side.
Sam Winnall (Unattached) –
Given the regard Hurst, McAtee and Luke Waterfall are held in, it seems Mariners have the capacity to tolerate those with previous Scunthorpe connections.
Winnall fired the Iron to promotion from this level with 23 goals in 2013-14, and has since plied his trade higher up the leagues with Barnsley, Sheffield Wednesday, Derby and Oxford, who have released him this summer.
The 30-year-old is not as quick as he used to be, but has an excellent spring at 5’9” and would bring an impeccable poacher’s instinct, as well as plenty of knowhow.
Selfless target man Ryan Taylor had a great season for Grimsby but, at 34, should not be asked to start two games a week, and Winnall would reduce the load.
George Miller (Unattached) –
A huge facet of Paul Hurst’s sides at their best is the ability to control the game without the ball, and that requires strikers with an outstanding work ethic.
When Hurst’s Shrewsbury side reached the League One Play-Off Final in 2017-18, the first-choice striker was Carlton Morris, who scored only six league goals in 42 games (32 starts) – but set the tone for the rest of the team with the industry and graft.
George Miller might not quite have found the productivity he wanted at Walsall, scoring just four goals after October last season, but he did bring relentless energy in running the channels as well as harrying defenders.
For a manager looking to build an efficient pressing side at this level, therefore, Miller may be a wise pick: especially if he can refine his link-up play and finishing to add to his strong running.
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