MARK Beesley admits he always expected Luke Duffy to leave Warrington Town – but not as quickly as he did.

As such, he says the winger’s departure to Macclesfield caught his already small squad on the hop.

On Friday, it was confirmed the Silkmen had paid a fee that is a club record since their reformation in 2021 to sign Duffy, who scored on his debut against Bradford Park Avenue on Saturday.

While losing a key man is an undoubted blow, Beesley believes the club got the right deal for the 24-year-old.

“It’s a blow to the squad – we thought it happen but we thought it might be a little bit further down the line,” he said.

“It’s caught us a bit off-guard but once he made it clear he wanted to go, it was up to the chairman to get the best deal he could for the club and I think he has.

“Once a player makes it clear he doesn’t want to be here, there’s nothing you can do but we wish him all the best.”

Duffy’s departure put another dent in Beesley’s small squad that was already without skipper Josh Amis (knee and suspension), his fellow striker Jordan Buckley (ankle) and key midfielder Jay Harris (groin) prior to Saturday’s game against Blyth Spartans.

Town then lost Matty McDonald (knee) in the warm-up and left-back Andy White (foot) just before half time, while Bohan Dixon’s sending-off late in the 2-0 defeat comes with a three-match suspension attached.

There is a “seven-day rule” that applies to suspensions so Dixon is available for Buxton’s visit to Cantilever Park on Tuesday night.

McDonald and White will be assessed, Buckley is thought to be targeting Saturday’s trip to Chorley for his return but Amis and Harris remain long-term absentees.

“We’ve got good characters and they have to stand up,” Beesley said.

“The experienced players have to come to the fore here and help the young lads out.

“Football kicks you in the teeth and we’ve got another tough game on Tuesday against a Buxton side who, in my opinion, will be right up there this season.

“The games are tough and there’s no point feeling sorry for ourselves. We have to get on with it.”