Paul Ince has revealed the decision not to offer Ian Evatt a new contract was his toughest.
As revealed in yesterday’s Gazette, the popular defender is one of 12 professionals set to leave Bloomfield Road this summer.
Evatt missed nine months of this season with a knee injury and it’s unsure whether or not he’ll be fit to start pre-season in the middle of June.
“It’s not nice to have to release anyone,” said Pool boss Ince.
“Ian Evatt has been an absolutely fantastic servant to this football club.
“The hardest thing for me was to not offer him a contract.
“But the decision was purely on the basis of him having a long term injury.
“It’s not fit yet, so we weren’t in a position to offer him a new contract.”
Instead of offering the long-serving 31-year-old a new deal, Pool instead invited him to join in pre-season training and prove his fitness, with the offer of playing in friendlies for the Seasiders on the table.
Ince added: “I have invited him to come and do a pre-season with us, and see how he gets on.
“I’m not one of these people who will just disregard someone when they are injured.
“I’ve made that clear to Evo.
“If he wants to train with us, get fit and maybe play a game or two, then we’ll look at the situation again.
“I’ve left that decision with him.”
The club’s release list contained mainly young players, although Elliot Grandin, Kevin Phillips and Tiago Gomes have also been told they have no future at Bloomfield Road.
Pool have confirmed talks with a number of players they wish to keep including Alex Baptiste, Kirk Broadfoot, Stephen Crainey, Neal Eardley, Barry Ferguson, Gary Taylor-Fletcher and Ludovic Sylvestre.
Ince knows how hard it is to leave a club, but also thinks a change can sometimes do someone good.
“It’s hard when people are part of the furniture,” he said.
“But people do get stale.
“I left Manchester United after six years and sometimes it does you good to move on.
“Sometimes you need a fresh impetus by going to a new club.
“After pre-season it might be a different story with Evo, but I’ve given him the option.”
William Watt’s Opinion
Blackpool’s release list will have come as no surprise to most, apart from the decision not to offer a new contract to Ian Evatt.
While I can understand the thinking behind it, with him missing nine months of last season and still not being fit, I think Evatt’s service to this club probably should have been enough to see him given another year.
Evatt joined Pool in 2006 with the club struggling in League One and played a massive part in their rise all the way to the top of the Premier League.
I can’t speak highly enough of Evatt and his contribution to the club.
He’s Blackpool through-and-through, it’s not an act and when we suffered a poor defeat, it would be Evatt who’s voice could be heard loudest after games.
He’s been invited to join in pre-season training, but I guess he’ll have a host of clubs after him this summer, so guess we’ve seen the last of him in tangerine.
There are now quite a few players who will always be welcomed back to Bloomfield Road with open arms, and Evatt’s service means he’ll be one of them.
It’s a shame, and the end of an era at Bloomfield Road, but he’ll always be able to tell his grandkids he played for Blackpool in the Premier League.
Cheers for the memories, Evo.
The full contract list
• Options have been taken to extend the contracts of: Louis Almond, Anderson Banvo, Chris Basham, Jake Caprice, Craig Cathcart, Nathan Eccleston, Matt Gilks, Bob Harris, Thomas Ince, Angel Martinez, Isaiah Osbourne, Matt Phillips
• New contract offers made to the following young professionals: Tom Barkhuizen, Adam Dodd, Mark Halstead, Chris Kettings, Liam Tomsett Talks remain ongoing with: Alex Baptiste, Kirk Broadfoot, Stephen Crainey, Neal Eardley, Barry Ferguson, Gary Taylor-Fletcher, Ludovic Sylvestre
• The club has decided against exercising the options or offering contracts to: Paul Bignot, Alex Addai, Gerardo Bruna, Matthew Challoner, Adda Djeziri, Ashley Eastham, Tiago Gomes, Elliot Grandin, Jamie Menagh, Kevin Phillips, Curtis Thompson.
• Invited to pre-season to prove fitness: Ian Evatt, Craig Sutherland