Barnoldswick Town boss Stewart Airdrie admits that Joe Gaughan would be welcome back at the club should the striker be interested in making a return.
Gaughan netted 19 times in all competitions for Town this term before moving to the XLCR Stadium in February to aid rivals Colne in their bid for promotion to the Evo-Stik First Division North.
However, after scoring three times for the Reds, including two in the derby against Airdrie’s side last month, the prolific forward has decided to take a break from football.
“He’s not playing at all this season now,” said Airdrie. “He’s decided to take some time out from the game. I don’t think he was enjoying himself as much as he thought he would which is a shame because he’s a very good player.
“I would love to get him back here because he’s our leading goalscorer. Unfortunately it’s not possible at the moment because he’s still under contract with Colne and the deadline has passed.
“I’m not sure how he’s left things with Colne, whether he’d go back there or whether he’d seek a new challenge, but at the moment he’s taking a break.”
Airdrie added: “I would need to speak to Joe but he would always be welcome here. I wouldn’t turn a player of his quality away. He’s a very good player, he’s still only young so he’s got time on his side.
“Joe is certainly capable of playing at a higher level. If he keeps on with it then I’m sure he will do. The option is there for him if he wanted to come back in the summer.”
Meanwhile, Airdrie is targeting a top 10 finish with just 10 games of the campaign remaining. The countdown begins against Ashton Athletic at Brocstedes Park tomorrow (kick off 3 p.m.).
“We always said that we’d like to finish in the top 10 after a bad campaign last season. With the start we had we started to look at the top six but with the way it’s petered out we’d be happy with top 10.
“There’s still a lot of football to be played though in a short space of time so anything could happen. I think the postponement (against Alsager Town) has done us a favour on this occasion rather than hamper us.”
He added: “Ashton haven’t got much to play for, like ourselves. That’s the problem with this league - there aren’t any play-offs so if you’re not in the top few there’s nothing to go for.
“Their form hasn’t been startling but we’re expecting a tough game. It’s never easy playing away from home in this league.”