Michael Gault axed by Linfield after failing to agree new deal

Midfielder Michael Gault
Midfielder Michael Gault

New Linfield boss Warren Feeney continued his Windsor Park clear-out on Thursday night with captain Michael Gault among five players to be released.

Gault – who joined the Blues in 1999 – has been axed after failing to agree a new deal with the club.

And in evidence of the new manager’s ruthless streak, Feeney also confirmed the departures of strikers Mark McAllister and Matt Tipton, midfielder James Knowles and defender Kyle McVey.

It follows on the heels of Billy Joe Burns’ move to Crusaders earlier this week, as Feeney continues remoulding his squad ahead of next season.

Gault – who made his senior debut in April 2002 and was appointed club captain in July 2011 – made 480 appearances for the Blues.

“As Michael Gault and I have been unable to agree on terms for a new contract for him, I’ve therefore had to inform him today that I’m not in a position to offer him a further contract extension at the club,” Feeney told the club’s website.

He added: “As manager I have to be prepared to take tough decisions when agreement cannot be reached.

“While I’m fully respectful of great service in the past, I’m fully focused on reaching agreement with players for the future of the club.

“I know I speak on behalf of everyone at the club when I offer my thanks to Michael for all his terrific service in the club’s cause over many years.”

McAllister – who signed from Dungannon Swifts for £30,000 back in January 2009 – bagged 54 goals in over 200 appearances.

“Mark has done well for Linfield and he’s been a great servant of the club over the past number of years but I have to make decisions with regard to the future of the club. I want to wish him all the very best in all he does in the rest of his career,” added Feeney, who also thanked Tipton, Knowles and McVey for their contributions to the club.

Tipton scored 20 goals in 52 games over two seasons for the Blues, while McVey featured 22 times last season.

Knowles – signed from Cliftonville last summer – played just 13 games before being sent on-loan to Ards.

Meanwhile, versatile Aaron Burns has signed a new contract with the Blues, while Feeney has offered contract extentions to four of the club’s younger players.

TJ Murray, Sean Donnelly, Conor McMenamin and Rodney Brown have all agreed one-year terms.