City have allowed three first-team players to leave the club at the end of their contracts, as confirmed by the retained list released this afternoon.
One, Regan Poole, is almost certainly moving to the Championship, and it appears we’ve admitted defeat in the battle to keep him at the club. The other two departing players are Joe Walsh and midfielder Max Sanders. Young defenders Hayden Cann and Sean Roughan have been offered new deals, with Hayden penning his already. Negotiations are ongoing with Roughan, who is expected to be in demand.
24-year-old Poole completes a two-and-a-half-year stay with the Imps, during which he made 131 appearances, starting 107 League One matches. He was last season’s Player of the Season and this season’s 617 Player of the Season. On his departure, director of football Jez George said: “We have done everything possible to keep Regan at the club, but he wants to explore options at a higher level, and we fully respect that.
“Regan has been brilliant for Lincoln City, captaining the team on many occasions, including on his final appearance at the LNER Stadium on Sunday, and is held in high esteem by everyone. We sincerely wish Regan all the best in the next chapter of his career, thank him for everything, and hope that he gets the opportunity he deserves at a higher level of the football pyramid.”
Max Sanders’ departure is a little more surprising; after a torrid first 18 months under Michael Appleton, he appeared to have cemented a place in the side in the first half of the season. Since Ethan Erhahon’s arrival, Sanders has found his game time limited, and it’s likely he’ll search out a move closer to his home in the south east. Max’s last involvement with the club was to miss a penalty in the final game, but his appearances have been sporadic – he started just 27 League One matches for the club, coming off the bench 30 times.
Joe Walsh’s departure is a surprise to nobody, and you have to feel for the defender. His injury record has been horrible; in three full seasons, he’s started just 39 matches and made 52 appearances. This season he’s played 14 matches, being sent off once, and has appeared just twice since the turn of the year. We had an option on both players’ contracts which we have chosen not to take up.
“We also thank Max and Joe for their contribution to the club over the past three years,” added Jez. “Both of them have been through difficult periods but have consistently demonstrated a strength of character and commitment to the cause. Joe has repeatedly put his body on the line, notably in the League One play-off semi-final and final, and Max showed his undoubted ability right up to his final appearance on Sunday. Both are quality players and good people, and we wish them well in their futures.”
Obviously, at this stage, all loan players have returned to their parent clubs, which leaves the Imps squad looking as follows.
Players under contract for 2023/24: