Shakers manager Alan Knill has said he had little hesitation in letting Stephen Dawson retain the captaincy despite his decision to turn down a new contract at the club.

The Irish midfielder, pictured, rejected the offer to remain at Gigg Lane beyond this summer because he wants to play at a higher level.

He has been the driving force behind Bury’s rise up the League Two table in the last two seasons, and his inspirational style of captaincy has attracted many admirers.

His game has not suffered during the contract talks and he was fantastic in the Shakers’ stunning fightback against Accrington Stanley on Monday.

And Knill said he didn’t think twice about letting him keep the armband.

“We had a decision to make on Stephen, on whether to keep him as captain,” said the Bury boss.

“I sat down with my staff and we decided we would let him stay in the role.

“He hasn’t actually stated he doesn’t want to play for the club, he just wants to play at a higher level.

“If I can do anything to keep him at the club, I will do that because he is a good player. He has been excellent for us, as we have been for him. Anything I can do, I will — and that includes giving him the captaincy.”

Bury face relegation-threatened Grimsby on Saturday hoping to build on their victory in East Lancashire on Monday.

After a frustrating Christmas, in which home fixtures against Macclesfield and Bradford have been postponed, they came from a goal behind to beat Accrington 4-2.

They stand on the cusp of the play-offs, and Knill is hoping his side’s experience of a promotion push last season will help them in the business end of the current campaign.

“We are not too far away from the play-offs and we have a goal to chase,” he said. “Over the next 24 games we have a target to finish as high as possible and see where that takes us.

“We have been there before, and the players are experienced enough to know what it takes, so hopefully that stands us in good stead.

“We have proven that if we are at our best we are one of the better teams in the division, but we can easily get beaten if we let our guard slip.”

Andy Bishop is seeing a specialist today and is hoping to return to training tomorrow alongside both Ryan Cresswell and Damien Allen. Tom Elliott is returning to the club on loan from Leeds on Friday and he will also be in contention for a place in the matchday squad at Blundell Park.