Stockport County have agreed to cancel centre-back Ben Barclay’s contract with the club, according to the club’s official website.
Barclay will now test the free agency market after two seasons with Stockport. The 26-year-old would struggle to break into the first team at Edgeley Park, making only 13 appearances.
The defender would spend the entirety of last season on loan with Carlisle United, making 17 appearances for the Cumbrians and scoring twice. One of those goals came in the second leg of the play-off semi-final against Bradford where Barclay would score the winner in extra-time sending Carlisle to Wembley in the process. Barclay was ineligible to play in the play-off final as he would be facing his parent club, he would however spend the final in the Carlisle camp.
It was fairly obvious that Barclay would be leaving the Hatters this summer given he was not in the club’s plans at all last season, however the decision to mutually cancel the contract comes as somewhat of a surprise. Stockport may have been able to get a fee for the defender this summer and he has frequently been linked with a move back up North to Carlisle. Stockport are expecting to challenge at the top of League Two again next season and they are now likely to bring another centre-half in following Barclay’s departure to strengthen the defensive ranks.
Who is Ben Barclay?
Barclay spent his youth days first with Manchester City before joining Brighton as a 17-year-old. He would make just one competitive appearance for the Seagulls before joining Accrington Stanley on a free transfer. The 26-year-old spent two seasons with Accrington before joining Stockport County in 2021. During his first season with the Hatters he was in and around the matchday squad but would be loaned to fellow National League side Yeovil Town for the second half of the season. He would once again be sent out on loan the season after, joining Carlisle and helping the Blues to promotion via the play-offs. Barclay is a solid and consistent centre-half who has also played as a right-back at times during his career.
Who are his possible suitors?
There is one very obvious option for Barclay and that is a return to Carlisle. The chances of a return to the Cumbrian side have only increased following the departure of centre-back and club captain Morgan Feeney. He is familiar with the playing style and the system at Brunton Park, and Blues manager Paul Simpson is very fond of the 26-year-old. Barclay would also walk into plenty of League Two sides as a starting centre-back and there may be some interest from some Northern fourth tier clubs.
When Barclay was loaned to Carlisle last season, it was fairly obvious that he was not in Dave Challinor’s plans. His likeliest landing spot would be at Carlisle and it would be a move I’d really like to see as a Blues fan. Although he would potentially be used as a rotational defender, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Barclay starting on the first day of the season if he is to complete a move.