From bad to worse: Smith released by Cheltenham
Less than 24 hours after his season ended with a painful play-off exit, Jonté Smith is a free agent having been released by Cheltenham Town.
The Bermuda striker had been on a short-term contract until the end of the season and hoped to win a longer deal, but the Sky Bet League Two play-off semi-final defeat by Northampton Town has ended his aspirations in the West Country.
To add to his woes, the 25-year-old has first to recover from an injury suffered in the first half on Monday before he can begin to tout his wares in earnest for the 2020-21 season.
Smith was one of five players released at the end of their contracts, including Luke Varney, who was injured for the play-offs, Rhys Lovett, Archie Brennan and Rohan Ince.
Owen Evans, the goalkeeper whose howler on Monday put the final nail in Cheltenham’s season, is among the loan players who are returning to their parent clubs. The others are Jake Doyle-Hayes, Jacob Greaves, Max Sheaf and Tom Nichols.
Only defender Josh Debayo has been offered a new contract, while contract negotiations are under way with midfielder Chris Clements.
“This is the horrible part of the game,” manager Michael Duff told the club’s official website.
“Particularly after last night. You’re having to have conversations 12 hours after the disappointment of last night. It’s the ruthless and horrible side.”
He added: “You make an emotional connection to these people. You’ve got a vested interest in their careers because everyone who is working with me, I want to do well. Sometimes you can’t have the same XI year on.
“Obviously there’s financial constraints as well which sometimes comes into the equation, particularly with the unknown future in terms of crowds — you’ve got to factor that in as well. It’s sometimes a case of not what you want to do, it’s what you have to do.”
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