Rotherham United have made offers to three of their out-of-contract players but have told eight others they no longer have a future at the club.
The Millers, relegated from the Championship this season, want to keep midfielder Richie Smallwood, left-back Joe Mattock and centre-half Richard Wood for next year’s League One campaign
Goalkeeper Lee Camp, the 2015/16 Player of the Year, heads the list of departures, with right-back Stephen Kelly, centre-halves Kelvin Wilson and Joel Ekstrand, defender Tom Thorpe, midfielder Chris Dawson and youngsters Tom Rose and Fabian Bailey also told they can leave.
Smallwood, Mattock and Wood are all keen to remain at New York Stadium if the terms are right.
Manager Paul Warne, who is hoping to make two striker signings next week, said: “I threw down the gauntlet to Richie a few weeks ago. I told him: ‘If you want to be here, you have to prove it on and off the pitch and at the training ground.’
“Richie’s performances since have been excellent. I know we’re dropping down a level, so I expect him to excel next year. He wants to be here. He lives locally. He’s done well for me .
“His work ethic is great and he is an organiser as well. I really like him. I don’t want to release players just to get fresh blood in. Richie is really good value for money for me. If I go and replace Richie for similar wages, I won’t find a player with as many attributes as him.
“I have always liked Joe. Under me, he has been pretty good. Ben (Purrington) was brought in to compete with him, but I think Joe has really taken the shirt back.
“He can play in a number of positions. He is enthusiastic. He wouldn’t win a quiz, but I really like him around the place.
“On Woody, I spoke to my staff after every game of the last five and everyone said it was a no-brainer to keep him. I will try to do his deal on more of an appearance-related thing.
“I can see him being a stalwart at this club and I can imagine him being on the coaching staff one day, but he has still got a lot to give on the playing side. He is good leader, a really good human being, and I think he will have a good part to play next year.”
The club are exercising their option to extend striker Danny Ward’s contract by 12 months and have made an offer to loan midfielder Tom Adeyemi. Ward is expected to be sold in the summer, while Adeyemi, already attracting interest from Ipswich Town, is likely to have Championship options.
There are no surprises in the released list, and it’s possible that Warne, who took the hot-seat permanantly last month, has also told some contracted players it would be in their best interests to look elsewhere.
“It frees up a bit of wages,” the boss said. “It’s helpful. I know that sounds awful. It’s always sad to see people go.
“But when I left here as a player, I went to Oldham and had two great years. I was sad to leave Oldham but went to Yeovil and had two brilliant years, then came back here.
“These are all good players. They’re going to continue having great careers, just not under my tutelage at this great club.”
Warne wants to begin his recruitment this month. He revealed he is an admirer of forward Matt Done, recently released by Sheffield United, but said Coventry City centre-half Jordan Willis, who he tried to sign in the January transfer window, is no longer a priority target.
The option on Ward will be in place by the end of the month, which gives Rotherham the power to demand a substantial fee when other clubs come calling.
“We will see where his career takes him,” said Warne. “I would love to keep Wardy. Everyone knows my relationship with him. We are pretty tight. I think he has done his part at this club.
“If he sees it fit that he goes and plays somewhere else, and we can get the fee that we want, then he goes with my blessing. He will be one of many lads at this football club who I will never lose contact with.”
The Millers will play two games in Austria on an eight-day pre-season tour which starts on July 9.
Meanwhile, the manager had the following to say about players who have been shown the exit door:
Camp: “Campy has been brilliant, although this season this year has been cut really short by injury. Players have a shelf-life at a club. He’s been a good servant to this club. I wish him all the best.”
Kelly: “Kelly’s been a brilliant pro. He’s been a bit unfortunate, post-Christmas especially, with injuries. He had a great season last year. But the way I want to recruit - to get a squad together of younger players who are going to be here for a few years - went against him. That’s not disrespect to Kelly. He’ll probably get a good club in the Championship anyway. We shook hands this week and we both knew it was the end of the line.”
Wilson: “I don’t think that’s a massive shock. He hasn’t played for me. That was an easy decision. He’s not a bad kid. I wish him all the best. His career just won’t be here.”
Ekstrand: “He was probably the biggest disappointment for me. He’s a brilliant lad who looks after himself. But he tweaked his knee in his first game (Cardiff City away, February 18) and needed an operation straightaway. That was a big blow.”