Oldham Athletic supporters have started a campaign to 'free Jack Byrne' with frustrations over the Irish midfielder's unexplained absence coinciding with the team's poor start to the League Two campaign.
Last December, then Latics manager Richie Wellens singled out Dubliner Byrne out for criticism, saying: "I've given Jack Byrne a free role for a number of games but I've been disappointed with Jack. He looks good on the ball but his end product is no assists. He got two goals against Northampton and a goal at Crewe, but that's a long time since he's scored a goal.
"For the position and the amount of freedom I give him in a game, I would expect more."
It seemed then that he would make a January exit but Byrne remained at Boundary Park, battling - unsuccessfully - to keep the club in League One.
After their relegation, several players were released, including Patrick McEleney, who returned to Dundalk after a frustrating six-month stint in England. He later told The Herald: "I knew from the off I had made a wrong decision, I made a bad call leaving Dundalk. And I am glad Dundalk took me back, I feel I owe them something for that. It just didn’t work, it was a weird club, it was run different to anything I’d seen before."
The bad vibes linger at Oldham. Last week Anthony Gerrard had his contract terminated for gross misconduct. He swiftly signed for Carlisle United.
Wellens has been replaced by Frankie Bunn but Byrne's exile has continued.
They lost at home to MK Dons before drawing with Forest Green Rovers.
Byrne did not feature in either game, and now fans have campaigned for the reintroduction of the former Manchester City midfielder, with the hashtag #freejackbyrne growing traction.
Forget 'Our Team. Our Town. Our Time.'#FreeJackByrne #oafc pic.twitter.com/Z5GtvNvjWu— Alex Mawer 🦉 (@MawerOAFC) August 13, 2018
What did you expect would happen here? #FreeJackByrne #oafc pic.twitter.com/uB7kUTWcXB— Ritchie's Magic Hat (@Ritchies_Hat) August 14, 2018
#FreeJackByrne pic.twitter.com/zI1TNW2rQl— Andy Husky🦉 (@andyhusky) August 13, 2018
With Derby County in town for a Carabao Cup clash tonight, it remains to be seen whether Byrne will finally make his return to action.