Fleetwood Town have withdrawn fresh offers to out of contract trio Conor McLaughlin, David Ball and Jimmy Ryan as they prepare to focus on recruiting some fresh faces.
The club had been in talks with Northern Ireland international McLaughlin, striker Ball and midfielder Ryan over extending their spells at Highbury Stadium ahead of the expiration of their current contracts on June 30 since October 2016.
But Town have now withdrawn all three offers with McLaughlin, 25, expected to make the step-up to the second tier after his return from honeymoon.
With the 2018 World Cup in Russia on the horizon and N.I still second in their Group C qualifying group a return to the Championship would secure McLaughlin’s starting spot.
McLaughlin forced his way into a regular starting spot in Michael O’Neill’s side due to his stellar and consistent performances for Town since his arrival from PNE in 2012.
But after helping Town make the step up to the third tier in 2014 and picking up the EFL’s right-back of the year prize for his contribution to Town’s historic fourth-placed League One finish, his future now lies elsewhere with Barnsley reportedly interested in the full-back.
And head coach Uwe Rosler says that McLaughlin, who has taken on the captain’s armband in skipper Nathan Pond’s absence, deserves the opportunity to play in the second tier.
He said: “Conor told me he wanted to play in the Championship and he has clubs lined up and he will most likely go and play in the Championship. He totally deserves this opportunity on the back of his outstanding performances over time for our football club.”
Ball, 27, was also part of that 2014 League Two promotion winning side having started alongside McLaughlin in Town’s 1-0 play-off final win at Wembley that May after making the switch to Highbury from Peterborough in 2012.
But after 200 plus appearances and 49 goals his time at Highbury has also come to a close with Town’s League One rivals Rotherham believed to be top of the queue to snare the signature of last term’s 14-goal top scorer.
And Rosler says there is no bad blood as he revealed Ball has told him he already has a club lined up.
He said: “David Ball called me up and said he will join another club. He did fantastic for us and I wished him all the best. There is no bad blood, in fact quite the opposite, we will remain friends.”
The exits of Ball and McLaughlin come as no surprise but after spending most of the season in the treatment room 28-year-old Ryan did not report for Town’s pre-season training yesterday with Rosler saying that stated to him that the midfielder, who joined the club from Chesterfield in the summer of 2015, will not accept the new deal hence Town’s decision to withdraw.
He said: “Jimmy didn’t report Monday for our first day of pre-season and that indicates to me that he will not accept our offer for a new contract.
“All three players made an impact in my time here, and I personally wish them and their families all the very best for their careers and future.”
And technical director, Gretar Steinsson, says withdrawing the deals to the three big earners allows Town to concentrate on recruitment after already snapping up top transfer targets Kyle Dempsey and defender Harvey Rodgers from Hull.
He said: “By withdrawing these three offers and drawing a line under negotiations which have been going on since last October, we can now move on in our plans to recruit for the coming season and make progress with a number of deals which myself, Andy Pilley and Uwe Rosler are keen to do.
“The club would like to thank all three players for their efforts during their time at Highbury Stadium, and wish them all the best for the future.”
Discussions are ongoing with the other three out of contract players Victor Nirennold, Godswill Ekpolo and Nick Haughton with the club hopeful to have something finalised before June 30.