Mansfield Town manager Nigel Clough admits he considered recalling Jimmy Knowles from his loan spell at Notts County in January.
Knowles was sent on loan to Meadow Lane in search of regular first-team football in the summer, looking to play a part in the Magpies’ bid for promotion from the National League.
The 20-year-old found regular game time hard to come by under former Notts boss Neal Ardley, though, and only seven of his 20 National League appearances this season have been starts.
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But Notts’ new Head Coach Ian Burchnall has put his faith in the young striker, who scored a 19-minute hat-trick against Woking at the weekend.
Knowles has now scored nine goals in all competitions this season, with five of those goals coming in the National League and four coming in the FA Trophy.
Speaking to Notts TV, Clough says he has spoken to Burchnall since the change in management, and admitted that he considered recalling Knowles back in January.
He said: “We were in touch with Neal Ardley and Greg Abbott and I’ve spoken to the new manager since he’s come in. It’s great that he’s playing and scored a hat-trick, and it’ll do wonders for his confidence.
“We had a good chat in January about whether we thought it was right to bring him back or not, but we honestly thought that for his development, it was best to leave him there. They said he will get some game time, and he is now getting that..
“We’re looking forward to seeing him in pre-season.”
This season was always going to be about regular game time for Knowles, and that is something which was hard to come by under Neal Ardley, who often played a 4-2-3-1 with a lone striker.
But Knowles is a raw talent who offers plenty of pace, and it was great to see him score a hat-trick at the weekend. All three goals were taken superbly.
If he can score a few more and end the season with 15 goals to his name, then he could become a key player for Mansfield next season.