Town boss: Decision to let Ainge depart was the right one

Simon Ainge has left Harrogate Town to join Wrexham on loan. Picture: Town Pix
Simon Ainge has left Harrogate Town to join Wrexham on loan. Picture: Town Pix

Harrogate Town manager Simon Weaver feels that the decision to let prolific striker Simon Ainge leave the CNG Stadium was the “right one for the club at this time”.

The 30-year-old, who netted 34 times in National League North in 2017 and has 14 Town goals to his name this season, has joined National League high-flyers Wrexham on a loan deal until the end of the current campaign.

His move follows a three-game spell where he found himself on the substitutes’ bench as the strike duo of Dominic Knowles and Mark Beck impressed in the forward positions.

“Aingey and his agent were both adamant that he needs to be playing games, so this is a great opportunity for the lad,” Weaver said.

“He’s found himself out of the team due to form. I wanted to give him a rest after the Billericay games and Dom Knowles and Mark Beck have been brilliant and deserve to keep their places.

“I’m not going to change the side when we’re doing so well, so as a player you have to either wait for your chance again or ask for a move.

“To be fair to Aingey, I was exactly the same as a player. If I was out of the team I was immediately looking at my options.

“In my opinion, this decision is the right one for the club at this time.”

Ainge, who shot to national prominence following a rich vein of goal-scoring form having been converted from a centre-half to a centre-forward 13 months ago, was the subject of a transfer deadline day bid from League Two Barnet less than four weeks previously.

And despite turning down a substantial five figure cash fee for the player only then to see him depart on loan, Weaver says he has no regrets.

“We turned down the Barnet bid because they didn’t meet our asking price, and I don’t regret it as it was the best decision at that time,” he added.

“Knowlesy had only just come back from an injury and needed more time to get back to fitness and Mark Beck was out of the team. It would have been more risky to let Aingey leave then.

“To be clear, I wouldn’t have allowed Aingey to go anywhere now if he was starting games, but he wasn’t getting a look-in and wanted the move.”

Ainge, who made his debut for Wrexham off the bench in Saturday’s home draw with Aldershot, is contracted to Town until the end of the 2018/19 season and Weaver is not ruling out the possibility of him re-appearing in a Harrogate shirt in the future.

“Of course we would welcome him back, he’s done so well for this club,” the Town chief continued.

“There’s been no fall out. We did everything face-to-face, I know he still wants Harrogate Town to get promoted, he’s just been disappointed not to be selected.”

Reflecting on his move away from Wetherby Road, Ainge said: “There were one or two possibilities during the last month or so, but when Wrexham came in this was just the sort of opportunity that I was looking for.”

He also took to Twitter to send Town a message that read: “Thankyou to everyone at @HarrogateTown for the past year and a half. The manager, players and fans have been great to me and I cannot thank you all enough!”

Town, currently top of National League North on goal-difference return to action on Saturday when they travel to Boston United.

Boss Weaver is in the market for a replacement for Ainge and hopes to conclude a deal for a forward player in the next 48 hours.