Moatmen have to cope with departures ahead of derby meeting against Sports
GRESLEY have lost the services of influential midfielder James Jepson to Evo-Stik League First Division South rivals King's Lynn Town.
The promotion-chasing Linnets, who beat the Moatmen 2-1 last Saturday, failed in a bid to land Jepson earlier this season but have been successful second time around.
"We could have stopped him going, because there is a league rule that prevents clubs making an approach for the same player twice in a season," said joint Gresley boss Gary Norton.
"But he had his heart set on it, so there was no point us standing in his way.
"He turned down a great offer last time and we were surprised to keep him then.
"He's been brilliant for us and played a key role in getting us promoted last season but since the initial approach, his form had not been up to the standard he had set previously, if I'm honest.
"He can leave the club with his head held high, though."
Another player departing the Moat Ground this week is on-loan forward Louis Hamilton, who has joined Evo-Stik Southern League Premier Division side Kettering Town.
"We had hoped to keep him for a bit longer, as he'd just forced his way into the side," said Norton.
"But he's got the chance to play at a higher level and goes with our best wishes."
Midfielder Dean Rathbone could also be on his way, following an approach from Chasetown.
"We want to keep him but Chasetown is on his doorstep," said Norton.
"We're waiting to hear his decision."
Defender Sam Woods has joined Shepshed Dynamo to build up his match fitness but striker Phil Massingham has turned down the chance of a move to Rainworth Miners Welfare.
Massingham is suspended for tomorrow's local derby with Mickleover Sports at the Moat Ground as Norton and his staff resume an old rivalry against new Sports management duo Glenn Kirkwood and Craig Hopkins.
"I'm looking forward to the game – and going up against Glenn and Craig again," said Norton.
"We all get on very well off the pitch and we had some good battles against them when they were at Heanor Town in the East Midlands Counties League.
"We always have a beer and a chat with them afterwards, whatever the outcome.
"Under Glenn and Craig, Heanor had a strong work ethic and played some good football – and I expect that to have been transferred to Mickleover now."
Gresley have now gone seven league games without a victory – since they won 4-0 at Mickleover on Boxing Day.
"We played well that day and it was a convincing win for us in the end," said Norton.
"I'm sure we will face a much sterner test this time.
"Glenn and Craig brought some good players in and although the results haven't come for them yet, it will happen.
"I wish them all the best – but only after this weekend!"
Striker Matt Harris could make his Mickleover debut tomorrow.
Harris has joined the club from Mansfield Town, where he was a regular for the Stags' youth team.
"We're steadily building the side and are also hoping to have a couple more players in the side for the Gresley game," said Kirkwood.
"(Joint manager) Craig Hopkins and I have had some great battles with Gresley over the years and we're looking forward to taking Mickleover there.
"They're a great side and Gary Norton is a good manager who has done well with them, especially since the formation of the new club.
"You can say as many nice things as you like about them, though, but we'll be going there looking to get three points. That's our aim."
Thom Kellogg is suspended this weekend following his red card in the 4-2 defeat by Loughborough Dynamo last Saturday.