ACCRINGTON Stanley are remaining hopeful that defender Phil Edwards will decide to stay at the Crown Ground despite interest from elsewhere.

Star duo Jimmy Ryan and Terry Gornell may both be set to leave, with midfielder Ryan understood to have agreed a deal with Scunthorpe and striker Gornell turning down the offer of a new two-year contract.

Defensive linchpin Edwards was another key man in Stanley’s progress to the League Two play-offs during 2010/11 and the Reds have heard suggestions that other clubs may be interested in the 25-year-old centre back, who could leave on a free transfer.

But Edwards has been at Stanley for six years and assistant manager Jimmy Bell hopes that could be a key factor as the player decides whether to accept the offer of a new two-year deal.

“Phil has been offered a good deal and we’re quietly confident, although there have been a few rumours about one or two clubs being interested,” said Bell.

“But Phil has been here since he was young, he can’t drive, he gets looked after by the club and he gets lifts in to training, so he feels quite settled here.”

Only Ian Craney currently has a confirmed deal for next season but Stanley boss John Coleman has said he will speak to all those out of contract on Monday, with pre-season training starting on Wednesday.

The Reds are optimistic of keeping Andy Procter and Luke Joyce on two-year deals, and also expect to retain the likes of Sean Hessey and Dean Winnard. Craig Lindfield’s desire to play first-team football could yet be a factor in whether he decides to stay, having been a fringe player last season, but Leam Richardson is likely to pen a new deal – possibly on a short-term basis with a view to a contract for the season.

Stanley often welcome a number of trialists at the start of pre-season and are currently trying to bring new faces into the club for next term, with Bell knowing the Reds must stick to their tried-and-tested method of getting the best out of players likely to be short of offers from elsewhere.

“We are always looking at up-and-coming young players or journeymen,” he said. “But we look after players here and have a track record of developing them.”

Uncertainty still surrounds Gornell’s future, with the striker linked with Hibernian, MK Dons and Crewe.

Hibs boss Colin Calderwood yesterday said he had been impressed when he watched Gornell play during 2010/11 but indicated there were no current plans to pursue an interest.

Crewe are thought to be short on funds, with Stanley entitled to a fee for a player under the age of 24, while MK Dons signed forward Dean Bowditch earlier this week.

* Jon Bateson, released last month, has joined Macclesfield.