Grimsby Town are reportedly set to offer a new contract to one of their top players in a bid to deter interest from other clubs.
Mariners’ goalkeeper James McKeown has caught the eye of several of Town’s League Two rivals with a string of fine performances that won the stopper the 2019 Grimsby Town Player of the Year Award.
The arrival of former Mariners’ boss Paul Hurst at Scunthorpe United has also hastened Town’s need to secure the immediate future of their first-choice goalkeeper, with the Iron boss having previously shown interest in reacquainting himself with McKeown.
It was Hurst who, alongside Rob Scott, originally brought McKeown to Blundell Park in 2011, from Dutch side RKSV Leonidas, having previously worked with the player at Boston United.
Over the following eight years, McKeown has gone onto play over 400 times for the Mariners, and scooped the club’s Player of the Year Award an unprecedented four times.
However, this isn’t the first time that his Blundell Park future has come into question.
In 2017, the emergence of Manchester United loan star Dean Henderson between the sticks confined McKeown to the bench for the first time in his Mariners’ career.
That prompted the stopper to hand in a transfer request to then-manager Marcus Bignot. It looked like the player would be following former boss Hurst to Shrewsbury Town but the two clubs could not agree terms – the Shrews wanting the player on a free transfer, with the Mariners demanding a fee for their goalkeeper.
Henderson’s return to Old Trafford paved the way for McKeown’s return to the Mariners’ starting XI and the episode was soon forgotten.
Last summer, with the former Peterborough stopper out of contract at Blundell Park, the Mariners fended off interest from Scottish Premier League outfit Motherwell to extend McKeown’s stay in Cleethorpes for another three seasons.
The subsequent arrival of players such as Jordan Cook and John Welsh bumped McKeown down the top earners’ list at Blundell Park though, and it is understood from sources close to the player that a transfer request was rebuffed by Town bosses midway through the 2018/19 season.
With Hurst now in post at Glanford Park, and the Iron’s proximity to Grimsby meaning McKeown would not have to relocate if any move was made, Mariners’ chiefs are understood to want to move quickly to give the club’s longest-serving player an improved deal to stay at Blundell Park for the foreseeable future.