Shroot’s future at Stevenage in doubt

ROBIN SHROOT’S future at Stevenage Football Club looks in doubt due to a disagreement over a new contract.

The 24-year-old, whose current deal expires at the end of the season, was offered a two-year deal by the club eight weeks ago as reward for the midfielder’s improved form during pre-season and goalscoring exploits from the start to the campaign under manager Gary Smith.

However, Shroot has so far decided not to sign because he is unhappy at the number of first-team opportunities he is being given, despite being the club’s joint leading scorer.

The Comet understands it is the player’s wish to wait until January before signing any agreement, with Shroot wanting to see if he will be afforded more starts before committing his future. But the club see this as an indication that the player is not committed to the team, and therefore his recent absence from the squad is justified.

Shroot has not featured in any matchday squad since the 4-0 defeat to Swindon Town on October 27, and hasn’t kicked a ball since coming off the bench against Colchester on October 13. The club has cited ‘footballing reasons’ as to why Shroot hasn’t been included in Smith’s last two matchday squads.

The Hammersmith-born player, who arrived at Stevenage from Birmingham before the start of last season, has mainly been used as an impact player coming from the bench so far this campaign, making only four starts and 12 substitute appearances – scoring six goals in all competitions.

The club released a statement on Monday stating Stevenage had refused Shroot’s request to go out on loan, before the player’s agent, Barry Silkman, denied on Tuesday that his client had asked for a temporary move away.

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The statement from chairman Phil Wallace reads: “The manager can see no benefit in allowing Robin to go on loan and lose the opportunity of his services, should he need them. He’s contracted to Stevenage and we do not want that to change.

“Gary Smith has not selected Robin over the past week on footballing grounds and this is an unwelcome reaction from Robin. We would have preferred him to focus and concentrate on working hard to try to get back into the squad, like everyone else that’s not playing, instead of asking for a move.

“We have been in conversations with Robin for several weeks about a new deal as his contract ends in six months or so, but those talks have gone round and round in circles and Robin has said he’s not sure he wants to commit himself to Stevenage past this present season.

“We make no secret that, as a club, we will always prefer players that are committed to our future over those that are not and we believe that to be right and proper at the level we play at. By his actions Robin has taken himself out of the manager’s plans for the moment, but we are all hopeful that can be resolved.”

In a conversation with the Comet, Shroot’s agent, Mr Silkman, says his client has been treated poorly by the club, and insists the player’s absence from the pitch is not down to ‘footballing reasons’, and instead is a reaction by the club to Shroot’s decision so far not to put pen to paper on a new deal.

Silkman says he plans to take the case to the PFA (Professional Footballers’ Association) and insists that, if the body finds in Shroot’s favour, he will be granted a free transfer away in the January transfer window.

Silkman said: “Robin’s case must be the only example in the whole world where a club’s top-goalscorer can’t even make it on the bench – why on earth would Gary Smith not even have him on the bench?

“We will go through the PFA and the truth will come out, and Robin will leave on a free transfer in January.

“I just don’t understand the club’s stance. On one hand they are saying he’s not good enough to get in the squad, but at the same time they want him to sign a new contract.

“Robin has never said he doesn’t want to stay. He only wants to wait until January before signing the deal – why is that so unreasonable? He loves it there and all he wants to do is play. If he plays there is no way he wants to leave.”