Bristol Rovers release 13 players as ex Stoke midfielder Glenn Whelan fronts up list of departures

Bristol Rovers have announced who they are allowing to leave the Memorial Stadium this summer

Glenn Whelan is moving on from Bristol Rovers after one season. (Photo by Pete Norton/Getty Images)
Glenn Whelan is moving on from Bristol Rovers after one season. (Photo by Pete Norton/Getty Images)
Glenn Whelan is moving on from Bristol Rovers after one season. (Photo by Pete Norton/Getty Images)

Experienced trio Glenn Whelan, Leon Clarke and Cian Harries have been moved on after Bristol Rovers released their retained list.

The Gas have allowed 16 players in total to depart the Memorial Stadium including Whelan, a prominent member of their promotion winning team.

A fortnight ago, manager Joey Barton stressed his desire for the Republic of Ireland midfielder to stay for another season.

Said in the midst of an impromptu press conference after the win over Scunthorpe United, Barton said: "To see him play like that today, I want him to play on next season but you’d have to ask his missus about that.”

It has been decided however that the 38-year-old will leave the club after one season, after following Barton from his former club Fleetwood Town following a short stint at non-league Wythenshawe Amateurs.

He made 33 appearances in all competitions with 31 coming in League One, but found himself limited to substitute outings after the New Year.

Whelan is followed out of the exit door by fellow summer signings from last year Junior Brown and Brett Pitman.

Both were free to depart in January with Pitman spending time on loan at Eastleigh, whilst Brown remained at the club but failed to make an appearance in a match day squad from October onwards.

Jon Nolan, signed on a free transfer following his release from Ipswich Town in January, has also been shown the door having played just 26 minutes in a Rovers shirt.

And despite his dressing room influence, Leon Clarke will also be departing, following an injury plagued time in the West Country. The 37-year-old played two matches before suffering a hamstring injury that sidelined him for three months.

He came back but then encountered more issues such as a groin problem, which kept him out for periods. Clarke leaves Rovers having played 11 times with nine of those being substitute appearances.

Ben Liddle, signed for an undisclosed fee from Middlesbrough in October 2020, will move on too after spending the season on loan at Scottish Championship club Queen of the South.

Cian Harries, the longest serving senior player out of the lot, having joined in January 2020 from Swansea City, will also seek pastures new. The 25-year-old defender found himself out of favour this season after the arrival of Connor Taylor and James Connolly.

Harries leaves having made 56 appearances in all competitions for the club, including 21 this season, though his last came in a 2-1 defeat to Oldham Athletic in February.

It’s good news for defender Sam Heal however as he has been offered a six-month contract with the club.

He had been given a professional deal last summer but suffered an injury that kept him sidelined. The left wing-back spent time on loan at Southern League outfit Salisbury in March.

The same can’t be said for other academy products Cameron Hargreaves, Ollie Hulbert, Pablo Martinez, Tom Mehew, Kieran Phillips or Lucas Tomlinson however.

Hulbert, Tomlinson and Martinez had been on loan at Lee Mansell’s Gloucester City with the former scoring nine goals for the Tigers.

Cameron Hargreaves meanwhile had been working under former director of football Tommy Widdrington at King’s Lynn, playing 19 times but they were relegated from the National League.

Tom Mehew, son of Rovers legend David, is currently on loan at National League hopefuls Chippenham Town but had been on loan at Swindon Supermarine, like Phillips who scored 17 goals for the seventh tier side.

Players Released: Glenn Whelan, Junior Brown, Leon Clarke, Cameron Hargreaves, Cian Harries, Ollie Hulbert, Ben Liddle, Pablo Martinez, Tom Mehew, Jon Nolan, Brett Pitman, Kieran Phillips, Lucas Tomlinson.

Offered new contract: Sam Heal (six months)