Stanley chief executive Rob Heys says the club are determined to sign up their top players to new contracts to avoid a repeat of last year’s Michael Symes saga.
Grimsby offered £100,000 for the striker in January last year but the Reds turned it down, offering Symes, whose contract ran out at the end of last season, a new deal which wasn’t signed. Bournemouth came in for him in the summer and he left the Crown Ground for free.
Most of the Stanley squad are only on contracts until the end of the current season and Heys says they are determined to sign up the likes of top scorer Terry Gornell and midfield battler Jimmy Ryan on longer deals soon.
"Negotiations have already begun with Jimmy’s agent and most of the players are out of contract at the end of the season, so we will be trying to tie a number of players up long before then," said Heys. "Terry is obviously another one who we need to talk to and there are quite a few others.
"What happened with Michael Symes taught us a lesson. We had a big offer for him in January but he intimated he would sign a new contract but then obviously Bournemouth came in for him and he left us for nothing.
"We want to avoid a similar situation and it is an ongoing process."
Manager John Coleman said nine-goal Gornell is ‘fast becoming the best striker in League Two’ and the former Tranmere man is enjoying life at the Crown Ground after returning permanently in August after a loan spell two years ago.
"Nothing has been said about a new contract yet but all I can do is keep playing well," said the 21-year-old. "I think I am playing some of the best football of my career at the moment.
"When I first came this season, I had to get used to playing in the new formation as a lone striker but, over time,¿I have become accustomed to it and know what is expected of me. It’s hard work but it’s a role I enjoy and it’s also my best season goal-wise, although I haven’t set myself any targets."
Ryan, who has had a number of clubs watching him after signing for the Reds in 2008 following his release from Shrewsbury, said: "I’ve just got to keep playing and hopefully earn a new contract here and take it from there.
"I came here with no other options basically and the gaffer did me a favour by picking me. He didn’t have to give me a contract but he looked after me, gave me my chance and hopefully I’ve repaid him and can keep repaying him."
Andy Parkinson and Ray Putterill, whose deals run out at the end of this month, are expected to get new contracts until the end of the season.
Meanwhile, after an unbeaten start to 2011, the 12th placed Reds are hoping to bounce back from Tuesday night’s 3-1 loss to Shrewsbury against relegation-threatened Hereford tomorrow and climb up the League Two table.
Gornell admitted: "We are disappointed about the Shrewsbury game but we felt the same when we conceded two late goals to Chesterfield and we bounced back to win our next game against Bury, so we have to dig deep again and hopefully we can put it right tomorrow.
"We had our first back-to-back wins recently and that was massive for us so we have got to do it again.
"We do need to get some consistency though as the league is so close. Not so long ago we were 20th and, within two or three weeks, we are up to 12th and looking upwards so it can all change quickly. Every point is vital. Hereford are on a bit of a run at the moment but we fancy ourselves against anyone at home."
Gornell hadn’t heard Coleman’s praise of him but admitted: "It’s pleasing to hear what the gaffer said about me as he doesn’t say it to my face! It’s good to know he’s got faith in me and it’s nice to know people are noticing me."
The Reds hitman is hoping they continue to do so and says there is friendly banter between him and Sean McConville, who has seven goals, about who will finish the top Reds scorer.
"I have put a bit of daylight between us with two goals in two games. I have got to keep the pressure on him. It’s what we all need though.
"The club has competition all over the park, from goalkeepers, through to defenders, midfielders and strikers. Every player knows that, if they don’t perform, there is someone waiting which is important to keep everyone improving."
And the young striker admitted he learned a lot from Reds hero Paul Mullin during his first loan spell at Accrington.
"Paul was a huge help to me," he said. "I have never played alongside anyone like Paul and I learned a massive amount from him. I was only 18 at the time and it helped me enormously."
Coleman is still building his squad. He lost Burnley loan defender Kevin Long to a broken toe during the 2-1 win over Cheltenham on Saturday, in what was the last game of a loan spell after three months at the Crown Ground.
The defender is expected to be out for a few weeks but the Reds are hoping to bring him back until the end of the season – although they will have to make a decision by the end of this month.
Meanwhile, the deal to bring Ian Craney back to the Crown Ground on a permanent basis is still not dead but the midfielder needs to sort out his future with current club Fleetwood.
Dean Winnard is expected to return to the side this weekend after missing the Shrewsbury loss through illness.