Home Sports Leahy and Upson among those leaving Bristol Rovers as Barton makes big...

Leahy and Upson among those leaving Bristol Rovers as Barton makes big changes

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Bristol Rovers have confirmed their retained list following the end of the 2020/21 season with captain Luke Leahy, midfielder Ed Upson, goalkeeper Jordi van Stappershoef and right-backs Mark Little and Josh Hare among those to leave as free agents.

Captain Leahy is departing the Mem having rejected the club’s offer of a new contract and the Gas’ top scorer from last season, with 10 goals in all competitions, is expected to stay in League One with Shrewsbury and Burton Albion among those interested.

Rovers manager Joey Barton has promised to deliver a “great reset” at the Mem and 24 hours after five staff members departed from the club, including U23s coach and Gas legend Lee Mansell, 13 players – 10 of them from the first-team – are being released.

Of the players out of contract this summer, outside of Leahy, only academy prospects Lucas Tomlinson and Ollie Hulbert have been offered new deals, with Rovers also exercising the 12-month option in Pablo Martinez’s contract.

The full list of the players who will not be retained by the Gas and are now exploring their options in the free agents’ market:

  • Alexis Andre Jnr
  • Liam Armstrong
  • Kyle Bennett
  • Tom Davies
  • Josh Hare
  • Michael Kelly
  • Ali Koiki
  • Luke Leahy
  • Mark Little
  • Abu Ogogo
  • Ed Upson
  • Jordi van Stappershoef
  • Harry Warwick

“I would like to extend thanks to all those departing the football club, as we look to rebuild the playing squad for success next season,” Barton said.

“The process of identifying transfer targets is already underway and we are looking forward to building a squad capable of winning promotion out of League Two.”

Leahy’s departure will come as a disappointment to Barton with the club having been in talks with the 28-year-old but his strong goalscoring season has made him an increasingly tempting option for a number of third-tier sides.

Upson has made 121 appearances for the Gas, under five different managers, since signing in 2018. Unfortunately his last appearance for the Gas will now be the 1-0 home defeat to Lincoln City in which he was red carded.



Ed Upson controls, under pressure from Sunderland’s Lynden Gooch

Bennett’s exit is a welcome relief for the wage bill with the winger’s sizeable contract having been a millstone for the last three-and-a-half years as the 30-year-old has never consistently commanded a first-team place and spent last season on loan at Grimsby.

Hare and Davies are unfortunate victims of circumstance as after establishing themselves as key players under Graham Coughlan they have since been beset by knee problems, limiting their impact and involvement.

Midfielder Ogogo wasn’t initially registered in Rovers’ squad for the 2019/20 season under Ben Garner, and went on loan to Dagenham & Redbridge before earning a recall under Paul Tisdale.

Mark Little was signed by Coughlan in the summer of 2019 but is another who has struggled with injury issues making just 23 appearances in two season. Left-back Koiki has battled knee issues since his arrival from Burnley at the start of the season.

Dutch goalkeeper van Stappershoef arrived in England from FC Volendam in that same transfer window as Little and has played 26 games for the Gas.

His departure, added to the loan return of Joe Day to Cardiff City, and the exits of Alexis Andre Jnr and Armstrong leaves Anssi Jaakkola and 17-year-old Jed Ward as the only recognised goalkeepers in the squad.



Jordi van Stappershoef of Bristol Rovers.

Left-back Kelly, once considered one of the brightest youth prospects at the club, has spent the second half of the season on loan at National League side Yeovil Town, while Warwick hasn’t made a first-team appearance for the club.

The club has also released academy scholars Adam Bliss, James Gorman and Henry Njonjo.

Loanees Day (Cardiff) and Erhun Oztumer (Charlton Athletic) have returned to their parent clubs, while midfielder Luke McCormick delivered a farewell message to fans on Tuesday as he’s recalled to Chelsea.

“Thank you to the Gaffa, the Staff and everyone involved with Bristol Rovers for a memorable first full season in men’s football,” he wrote on Twitter.

“Although as players we didn’t manage to stay in the division I have no doubt this special football club will bounce straight back and kick on.

“Gasheads, words can’t describe how grateful I am for your continued support from my first day till my last. I’m gutted I never got to experience a full house at the Mem but I’m immensely proud to have worn the quarters. I appreciate each and every one of you. Up the Gas.”

Rovers confirmed the list of players who are contracted for the 2021/22 campaign: Jonah Ayunga, Jack Baldwin, Josh Barrett, James Daly, Max Ehmer, Josh Grant, Brandon Hanlan, Cam Hargreaves, Cian Harries, Luca Hoole, Anssi Jaakkola, Ryan Jones, Alfie Kilgour, Ben Liddle, Tom Mehew, Sam Nicholson, Kieran Phillips, Alex Rodman, David Tutonda, Zain Walker, Jed Ward, Zain Westbrooke and George Williams

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