Ibby Akanbi has rejected a new deal at Maidstone as problems mount on attack for manager Hakan Hayrettin.

Summer rookies Jack Barham and Reece Grant will miss the start of the season after sustaining knee ligament injuries.

Ibby Akanbi has left Maidstone Photo: Sean Aidan

Barham is expected to be away for between four and six weeks, while Grant was due for a CT scan yesterday.

Hayrettin had asked Akanbi to prove his fitness after struggling last season but, after doing that, he walked away.

The Stones boss said: “Akanbi had an injury last year, which he recovered from, but maybe because of the time he was away, and also from Covid, which affects people mentally and psychologically. in different ways, his attitude was not good.

“He wasn’t the same person I knew and we didn’t see the best of him.

“I said to him, ‘If you come back and get in shape and be successful, and we see a change in attitude, we can sit down and make a deal.’

“To his credit, he did this, but I think he chose new pastures and left.

“I haven’t spoken to him since the Chatham game last week.

“I called him and offered him a deal, he refused this deal and he’s looking elsewhere.

“I always maintain that we as a club did the right thing in making sure he was in good shape before offering him a contract.

“I always said I wanted four forwards, and he would have been one of the four, but he decided to go for it.”

Alfie Pavey is the only striker in Maidstone form following Barham and Grant’s injuries, and that’s a concern for Hayrettin.

He said: “We have two serious injuries out of two center forwards which put us behind.

“Barham is four to six weeks old with medial ligament damage and we’re waiting for Grant’s CT scan, which is for the lateral ligaments, but it killed us to lose those two.

Maidstone United manager Hakan Hayrettin Photo: Steve Terrell
Maidstone United manager Hakan Hayrettin Photo: Steve Terrell

“We have a small budget to play with, but it’s difficult to recruit center-forward.

“Our recruiting went well, but if you buy a car and something is missing, it’s not going to start.

“We missed two weeks and three games, with Covid as well, so we have a bit to do.

“I don’t know how that will affect us in the long run, but we are doing everything right, we are looking at the minutes and the charges that we give to the players, to make sure that we are ready.

“It’s a united group, they are together, and I keep telling them that if the team is successful, the individual will thrive.”

Maidstone won 2-1 at Hythe last Thursday, thanks to Tushaun Walters and a late own goal.

They beat Charlton’s Under-23s 4-2 on Saturday, Regan Booty, Sam Corne, Christie Pattisson and Pavey (penalty) with goals.

They travel to East Thurrock tonight and end the pre-season at Folkestone on Saturday.

While preparation is one thing, a major benefit for Hayrettin has been the return of the fans.

He said, “I want them to know it’s not the same without them.

“I hope all of our fans and their families are safe and healthy because I know this pandemic has affected people in so many different ways.

“I want to say a big thank you for their loyalty, the messages of support were amazing and the reaction from the supporters when I went out on Saturday was really nice. May this continue for a long time.

“If this journey we’re walking on, he’ll need supporters with us.”

Read more: The latest sports news in Kent

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