RYAN Lowe is already planning for next season with Bury set for relegation from League One.

The Shakers’ boss was resigned to the drop after the dismal derby defeat to Rochdale.

And, despite an improved performance at Walsall on Saturday, his side still suffered a sixth straight loss, meaning relegation would be confirmed if Oldham were to beat Walsall in last night’s match, played after the Bury Times went to press.

Lowe had warned his players they would be playing for their future during the last few weeks of the season. And he made several changes at Walsall, leaving out on-loan keeper Connor Ripley to give 36-year-old Joe Murphy his first game since October.

“I felt we needed to make a few changes after losing a derby, when there was a lack of fight and passion, but with Murph it was a bit different,” said Lowe. “Connor’s come in and done well for us but I said to everyone they’d get an opportunity to earn themselves a new contract.

“Joe Murphy’s one of those so he’s got an opportunity now to stake a claim.”

The Irishman could therefore keep his place for Saturday’s home match against fellow strugglers Northampton, before the Shakers visit Doncaster next Tuesday.

As well as giving out-of-contract players a chance to impress, Lowe wants to blood Bury’s youth products in readiness for next season.

Callum Styles and Ryan Cooney continue to shine and with left-backs Greg Leigh and Joe Skarz ruled out last Saturday, 17-year-old Saul Shotton was named on the bench.

“We’re short on numbers so we’re limited,” said Lowe. “But Saul’s good enough to be around the first team and the likelihood is he’ll get a chance very soon. I’m not afraid of putting the young lads in.”

Bury have five games left and Lowe hopes they can gain some positives heading into the summer.

“I want to see more fight and I think we saw that on Saturday,” he said. “We were braver on the ball, we passed it round more, and that’s what I want.”