Brighton & Hove Albion under-21 coach Simon Rusk is pleased with how his squad is looking for next season, but admitted it was hard to bid farewell to the players who were released this week.
Goalkeeper Harry Doherty, defenders Tom Dallison and Rob Hunt, midfielders Jesse Starkey and Jeffrey Monakana, and forward Jason Davis have all had their deals extended until the end of next season. However, Bradley Barry, Shamir Fenelon, George Cole, Cameron Wiltshire, Danny Pappoe and Jimmy Muitt were not offered new deals.
Rusk told seagulls.co.uk, “We’re still looking to add quality in certain areas, but it’s a group of players that myself and the academy staff believe in.
“Some of the boys that were released have been here a long time and they’ve not only come through the centre of excellence or scholarship programme, they’ve also completed two years in the development squad programme as well.
“The likes of Brad Barry and Shamir Fenelon are examples and it can be hard to let people go after that period of time, but that is the nature of professional football. We wish them well, but as a football club you have to evolve and move on.
“Overall I’m very happy with the group of players that will be reporting back for pre-season.”
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The under-21 coach stressed that the hard work is just beginning for the players that have been kept on for another year and says that those who have been released can still forge a successful career in the game.
“Statistically it’s hard to become a professional footballer, but there are many different routes you can take.
“You can make a decent living in the game in this country or you can go and play overseas. I hope that all the players that have been released can take many positives from their time with the football club.
“For the boys coming back, it is up to them to look after themselves and they need to be professional both in and out of the football club.
“You’ve got to give yourself a physical and mental rest, but you have to be sensible with what you do during your time off because competition is fierce.
“You have to be in elite condition when you come back, but I have no doubt that the strength and conditioning guys will educate the players thoroughly on that.”