Ballymena United boss Glenn Ferguson last night began to prune his playing staff by releasing veteran striker Gary McCutcheon and midfielder Brian McCaul.
Both players’ contract were due to expire at end of the current season, but Ferguson is eager to get down to business and start planning for the new term.
McCutcheon joined the Sky Blues from Crusaders in January for a second stint at the Showgrounds - it is thought he may well hang up the boots - while McCaul, formerly with Linfield, moved from Glenavon.
Ferguson will take his troops to the North West tomorrow for a Danske Premiership clash against struggling Institute, whose top flight status is hanging by a threat.
“Gary has got a new job and work commitments are dictating what is happening with him,” said Ferguson.
“He is away from his family a lot of the time during the week and with us not reaching the Irish Cup final, he thought it would be best for him to quit now and concentrate on his work rather than travel back and forward.
“I have to appreciate that. He is a family man and he wants to do that so there was absolutely no issue with that.”
McCaul has been ravaged by injury for most of the season.
Ferguson added: “Brian wants to go to America for the summer.
“He wants to do that as soon as he can and he asked for his release.
“At this stage of the season, it gives us the chance to look at other players, such as young Matthew Shevlin as we did on Saturday”
Ferguson has been delighted with his team’s response since their Irish Cup semi final defeat by Portadown - they have won every league game since.
“The boys have worked hard and was good to get wins over Coleraine and Warrenpoint in our last two matches.
“We must now keep that form going to the end of the season.”