Salford City let former captain Chris Lynch rejoin Altrincham

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Gary Neville presents Chris Lynch with an award last April (Gareth Lyons)

NATIONAL League North strugglers ALTRINCHAM have boosted their bid for an unlikely reprieve from relegation by bringing Chris Lynch back to the club.

The versatile 32-year-old left Hyde United to join Alty for the 2011/12 season, playing 38 games before joining Ashton United in 2012. The tough-tackling defender then became part of the Salford City revolution following their Class of ’92 takeover and skippered the Ammies to back-to-back promotions in the last two seasons, as well as helping them reach the FA Cup 2nd round last term.

Last summer Lynch left for a new life in Australia, playing for second-tier side Murray United in Victoria, but he recently returned to the UK. Although he played one game back with Salford in January, joint-managers Anthony Johnson and Bernard Morley couldn’t guarantee him regular football so boss Matt Doughty brought him back to Alty.

The Robins have been desperately short of leaders this season and last Saturday’s 1-0 home defeat by FC Halifax left rock-bottom Alty 18 points from safety with 14 games left. Lynch trained with his new team-mates on Thursday and is in contention for Saturday’s trip to 7th-placed Darlington.

Salford boss Johnson has previously called Lynch ‘the best captain he’s ever worked with’ and last week explained why he is such an asset.

“It’s brilliant to have Lynchy back, he was our captain for 2 years,” he told Beyond the Big Two. “He emigrated to Australia and it didn’t work out for him and the family so he’s come back.

“He called me and Bernard, and it was a no-brainer for us to get Lynchy back. He’s got promotions under his belt and we had that FA Cup run but it’s his character. He’s not one who screams and shouts in the changing room, but he leads by example. He’s only played one game since he came back but he’s given everyone a massive lift.

“He’s one of those characters that plays and acts the way me and Bernard manage. He commands and demands off the players what me and Bernard do, and you can’t have enough to those type of players.”

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Lynch in action for Salford (left), with joint-manager Anthony Johnson (top right) and during his first spell with Altrincham (bottom right)

Lynch was an ever-present for Salford in the Evo-Stik Premier last term before getting injured in the final league game, ruling him out of their successful play-off campaign. After the final home game of the regular season, Salford’s co-owner Gary Neville presented him with 3 awards – Supporters’ Player of the Season, Players’ Player of the Season and an trophy for reaching 100 appearances for the Ammies.

While he is a no-nonsense defender, who has played mainly at centre-half but also right-back, he showed his versatility by playing as a midfield anchor man in Salford’s 4-0 win over Nuneaton on January 24.

“I think it raised a few eyebrows, especially with the owners, that he’s been a centre-half and a right-back and we threw him into a game against Nuneaton,” Johnson added.

“They’re a full-time team and we had reports about how strong they are in the middle of the park. They’d won 8 on the bounce just before that game so we needed to be aggressive in there, and because of the way Lynchy is and the way he acts and plays, it was a no-brainer for us to throw him in. And us winning 4-0 shows it paid off by doing it.”

Lynch didn’t feature as Salford went on to record two hugely impressive victories over FC United (3-0) and AFC Fylde (5-0) the last two Saturdays to go 2nd in the table.

The Ammies are now within 9 points of leaders Fylde heading into this Saturday’s away match against Gloucester City. They then have back-to-back games against 2nd-bottom Stalybridge Celtic next week – a Manchester Premier Cup semi-final at Bower Fold and then a league match at Moor Lane.