STUART McCall today voiced his sympathy with City’s released players – but admitted the club’s hands are tied.

Ten of the 11 members of his squad out of contract at the end of next month have been told they wil go.

Richard O’Donnell is the only one that City are trying to re-sign and talks have begun with the keeper and his representatives.

McCall stressed it was never easy to let players go – even more so in the current scenario caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

He said: “These are unsettling times for everyone and certainly the boys that are out of contract all over the country.

“It’s always difficult when you’ve got to let people know that they won’t be offered anything.

“I’ve got to be honest, every single one of them totally understood the circumstances that we’re in at the moment – not just football and the club but the country itself.

“Naturally, it’s a worrying time for anybody who hasn’t got a job and for their families. Not just in football but businesses everywhere.

“You’re speaking to players and there’s obviously empathy for them.

“But the club are just in no position whatsoever to offer contracts to anybody at this moment in time. As we’ve said, there’s so much uncertainty.”

Jake Reeves, Shay McCartan, Danny Devine, Jermaine Anderson, Hope Akpan, Kelvin Mellor, Jordan Gibson, Adam Henley and Joe Riley have been shown the exit door as well as young keeper George Sykes-Kenworthy.

According to the City boss, circumstances conspired against some players when the season was suddenly cut short at the beginning of March.

“We had nine games to go and nobody could have foreseen what might have happened in them,” added McCall.

“Whether some players might have got more chance than others to show what they could do, we don’t know now.

“At that stage, we were still going to have decisions to make on a couple.

“We’d decided on most but there were still one or two who would have maybe had an opportunity in the nine games to strengthen their case for a new contract.

“But a lot of the lads saw it coming and understand what’s going on.

“Everyone’s been keeping an eye on the football side of it.

“Maybe in a couple of weeks’ time we might have more of an idea about things.

“But, as I’ve said, at the moment we don’t know when the season’s going to start, whether there’s going to be a salary cap and so on.”

Reeves, who McCall signed from Wimbledon in 2017, was the only one of those released to start all six games since the manager’s return three months ago.

O’Donnell was also an ever-present after returning from injury to replace Portsmouth loanee Luke McGee in goal for Gary Bowyer’s last match in charge against Oldham.

McCall confirmed he had spoken to the keeper this week.

“He fully understands the situation. The talks will be ongoing now between the club and Richard and his advisers.

“In the next few weeks, things might become a bit clearer. That’s what everyone is hoping for, agents, clubs and players.”