Southend United manager Mark Molesley says he did not play striker Charlie Kelman in his side’s 2-2 draw with Exeter on Saturday due to concerns about his fitness, amid interest in the 18-year-old from QPR.
The Championship side have reportedly seen two bids rejected for Kelman, who has now been absent from Southend’s last three games.
However, it seems as though the reason for Kelman’s spell on the sidelines is down to fitness issues, rather than anything related to those links with a move to English football’s second-tier.
Speaking about Kelman’s future, and why the striker did not play against Exeter, Molesley told The Southend Echo: “I haven’t heard anything more and he’s still a Southend player.
“He’s not had as much training as the others lately so we thought physically he wasn’t quite right today.”
Explaining why the teenager has been training less than his Southend teammates recently, Molesley went on to explain: “He missed a couple of days with a bit of a sore knee.
“He’s done a little bit of light work since then but he’s probably not quite fit enough to be in the squad at the moment.”
Prior to his recent run out of the side, Kelman had made 35 appearances in all competitions for Southend, scoring eight goals for the Shrimpers.
There are just under 12 months remaining on Kelman’s current contract with Southend, meaning he could be free to leave the club for nothing at the end of this season.
This is a difficult situation for Southend and Molesley to be in.
Regardless of whether or not Kelman’s absence is injury related, the nature of the transfer market means that people are going to put two and two together and assume that the reason he is not playing is due to that interest from QPR.
That sort of speculation is something that must surely be frustrating for Molesley, as he attempts to put a team together to pull away from the League Two relegation zone, although it ought to be noted that in such a difficult situation, it could be worth them letting go of Kelman while they can still receive a fee for him this summer, given how important those funds could be to the club going forward.