New manager Chris Wilder was powerless to include Dean Hammond on the list of players released by Sheffield United.
The Star understands that Hammond, signed on loan by Wilder’s predecessor Nigel Adkins, negotiated a clause entitling him to a 12 month contract when he arrived from Leicester City last season.
With the option loaded in his favour, the midfielder informed Bramall Lane’s hierarchy he wished to activate it earlier this week. Wilder responded by immediately making Hammond available for transfer.
Paul Coutts, Martyn Woolford and Diego De Girolamo are among those also told they are free to find other clubs although goalkeeper George Long has been offered fresh terms.
Wilder’s cull, which also saw Alex Baptiste, David Edgar and Conor Sammon depart after their temporary agreements expired, means United are likely to embark on a major recruitment drive ahead of the 2016/17 campaign.
Captain Jay McEveley, Mark Howard, Bob Harris, Callum McFadzean, Terry Kennedy, Harrison McGahey, Florent Cuvelier, Ryan Flynn and Jamal Campbell-Ryce will all leave United when their present deals end next month.
Jose Baxter, who is facing a two year ban after testing positive for a prohibited recreational substance in February, has also been told his services are no longer required.
Flynn and Campbell-Ryce could emerge as targets for Chesterfield while Chris Morgan, Danny Wilson’s assistant at the Proact Stadium, is known to admire Kennedy after working with the youngster during his spell in charge of United’s under-21 team.
Like Coutts and De Girolamo, Kieron Freeman, Kieran Wallace and James Wallace have been placed on the transfer list by Wilder following his appointment eight days ago.