Former Middlesbrough youth Nathan McGinley has been released by Scottish Premier League side Motherwell, as confirmed by their official site.
McGinley missed 16 months of action for the SPFL side due to a serious injury, returning in the summer. However, his time at Fir Park comes to an end with just 32 starts to show for his three-and-a-half-years at the club.
“I just want to thank everyone at the club for the last three years,” McGinley said as he departed the club. “It’s been a really difficult time with the long spell out, but the club supported me all the way through it, and thankfully, I’m now back playing. I wish everyone the very best and hope it’s a strong end to the season for the boys.”
While he is fit and ready to play, first-team appearances have been difficult to find – he appeared twice in the SPFL this season, both times as a late sub, before being loaned to Championship side Partick Thistle. The Jags are third in the Scottish Championship, but McGinley was unable to break into their side and saw his loan terminated without making a single appearance.
It must feel a long way removed from his exciting beginnings, where he broke into the Wycombe side on loan from Middlesbrough, as they earned promotion to League One. He appeared 11 times for Gareth Ainsworth’s promotion-chasers before returning to Boro. Early in the following season, he made his Boro debut in the League Cup against Notts County before a second loan spell to Mark Cooper’s Forest Green Rovers.
Ironically, he made his debut against Notts County and went on to appear 38 times in League Two, playing in the two-legged play-off semi-final, which they lost to Tranmere Rovers. Such was his impact that Forest Green snapped him up on a permanent deal the following season, and he made a further 39 appearances in the aborted Covid season.
A move to Motherwell followed, and that’s where the defender’s luck ran out. After 53 appearances across two seasons, he was last seen in the Scottish Cup quarter-final against Hibernian, which his side lost 2-1. That started his 16 months of injury hell, from which he only returned in July against Elgin City.
He leaves Motherwell as they look in a precarious position, just two points outside the bottom two, having played more games than the two teams directly below them.
McGinley looked quite the prospect at Forest Green, and his first two seasons at Motherwell were solid enough. However, that injury, which has been described as an ‘undisclosed issue‘ has put paid to his promise, and his struggles at Partick only serve to amplify that situation.
There’s very little likelihood of a return to the SPFL or, indeed, a side outside League Two. However, as a free agent, he may take his time over his next move. Right now, the market is saturated with young players heading out on loan, but as soon as the window closes, a free agent becomes a much more valued commodity.
Could a return to Forest Green, struggling at the foot of League Two, be on the cards? He was certainly settled there, but whether they’re going to be in the market for an injury risk is another thing altogether.