Mansfield Town boss Steve Evans is hoping midfielder Calum Butcher enjoys a successful loan spell at Billercay Town and returns to the Stags ready to be a key player next season.
Stags had high hopes when they landed Butcher from League One Millwall in the summer.
But, struggling for full fitness and a run of games, life has been frustrating for Butcher who has now had to drop to play non-League, despite interest from League One clubs interested in his services.
“The kid just needs to go and get games,” said Evans. “He came here and we had to work hard initially to get him fit as he was only a bit part of the scene at Millwall.
“He scored on his debut off the bench with his first touch. But since then he’s been in and out – more out than in – but he’s never stopped working hard.
“Coming here, he is away from his young family in London, which is always going to be tough.
“When he wasn’t getting into the team on a regular basis all through December and January, I had a number – probably close to 10 – League One and League Two clubs ask to take him on loan.
“We would have pressed the button with a good League One club but there is an idiotic rule that you can’t play for three clubs in one season – it’s nonsense probably made up by a janitor at FIFA.
“They have no regard for what we’re about in League One and Two. We don’t have Premier League resources.”
However, Butcher, 26, has now joined Isthmian League Premier Division leaders Billericay
“Calum was frustrated at that ruling and asked if there were any other options as he needed to play games,” said Evans.
“A couple of Conference clubs were interested. But then we got a call from Billericay, who are the Roy of the Rovers team of non-League right now.
“They have a fantastic owner. It’s all right having funds, but you have to spend it properly and Calum will be a great signing for them.
“He’s going to play with people like Jermaine Pennant and others.”
Evans believes a good loan spell there could set up Butcher well for next season at the One Call Stadium.
“He needs to go there, get lots of games, and help them get promoted,” said Evans.
“He is back every night with his young family, which is important to him. I think the plan was to move them up here this summer.
“So let’s hope he has a fantastic season and is back with us in the summer, his family have moved up, and he’s ready to go and play a big part next season.”