STEVE TILSON was defeated in his bid to keep Josh Gowling at Lincoln City yesterday despite making several pleas to extend his loan from Gillingham.
The Imps boss revealed the defender will be heading back to Kent after tomorrow's FA Cup clash at Hereford which will bring his impressive one-month stay to a close.
However, Tilson fared much better with MK Dons' Luke Howell, Arsenal's Gavin Hoyte and Millwall's Ashley Grimes before last night's deadline, with the trio set to stay until next year.
But the former Southend boss could not hide his dismay at losing Gowling, who has aided Lincoln's recovery from a lacklustre start to the season.
"I was delighted to sign up three of the four players, but there was not much I could do about Josh," he said.
"He is Gillingham's player and they are well within their rights to call him back.
"It is a blow because he's done fantastically well for us since joining us. He wanted to stay because he is playing football and he was enjoying it here.
"We certainly tried to push it all the way in order to keep him and so too did his agent.
"We just have to keep our eye on him, but it does leave us short. There was one player I could have signed to fill his position, but he has a slight thigh strain."
Both Grimes and Hoyte are set to play against the Bulls tomorrow with the Imps just one victory away from a potential money-spinning third round tie against a Premier League side.
The finance would provide the club with a welcome boost having recorded losses of close to £200,000 which are set to be announced at the club's Annual Meeting next month.
Tilson said he would love an away draw at Manchester United or Liverpool in the next round insisting the rewards will help fund his makeover of the squad.
But he insists City, who were beaten 5-0 by Bury on Tuesday, face a tough task to make the draw despite beating Hereford 3-1 last weekend.
"Just because we beat them doesn't mean we will have a psychological advantage and both sides will be on an even keel tomorrow afternoon," he said.
"They have a couple of players out which could be to our advantage, but even then it will still be tough."