Cobblers boss Chris Wilder has admitted that releasing Lee Collins was ‘arguably the most difficult decision’ he had to make when finalising the club’s retained list.
Collins has been a first-team regular this season, but was one of seven out-of-contract players to be shown the Sixfields door on Monday morning, with the others being Matt Duke, Darren Carter, Ian Morris, Ben Tozer, Lewis Hornby and Ross Perry.
Chris Hackett and John-Joe O’Toole have also been placed on the transfer list as Wilder tries to reshape his squad following their 12th place finish in Sky Bet League Two this season.
The Town boss admits no decision to release a player is ever an easy one, but he admitted that releasing Collins was particularly tough.
“I think Lee’s been arguably the most difficult decision that we have had to make,” said Wilder.
“He has been here a couple of years, and didn’t have a great time with injuries in his second season.
I have to say that since Christmas he has done well, and it was really borderline with Lee right up to the past weekCobblers manager Chris Wilder
“I have to say that since Christmas he has done well, and it was really borderline with Lee right up to the past week.
“But we have decided not to offer Lee a contract, as we have two central defenders there that we expect to play in Zander Diamond and Ryan Cresswell.
“They are both on three-year deals, and we are going to look to bring in a natural left-footed centre-half to complement those two.
“We are looking at the shape we might play as well, and we are looking for somebody that comfortably plays on the left of a three.
“But it was a difficult decision, because Lee has shown a reaction since Christmas, and has been in the team.
“Maybe people are surprised and I can see that, but we have made the decision, and Lee might possibly want to go and play first-team football as well, so we understand that.
“You make these decisions on a feeling that we can improve on certain situations.
“Maybe we might want to go and get a different type of player to Lee, and any decision you make is not always going to be universally popular.
“I released Alex Nicholls, that wasn’t a popular decision, we released Kelvin Langmead, that wasn’t a popular decision, but I am not here for it to be a vote like something off the X Factor.
“I have to make the decisions myself, through experience, and try to take things forward.
“That’s how it is, it’s how football is, and I understand there might be a few people not getting that and not seeing the decision, but I have to back my judgment.”
Wilder knows there is always a risk when releasing players, that they may go on to other clubs and excel.
The Cobblers boss accepts that he may at times get decisions wrong, and says he wishes Collins and all the other players released bright futures.
“If Lee goes on to better things then I wish him all the best,” said Wilder.
“I am not a bitter manager, I am not wanting any of these players to leave here and their careers to slide, and not make a living or enjoy success.
“You can look back and think ‘maybe that wasn’t the right decision’, and I have made plenty of those decisions over the past 10 years of being a manager, but you back yourself to make more right decisions than wrong ones.”
Collins was signed by Aidy Boothroyd in February, 2013.
In all he made 82 starts for the Cobblers as well as four substitute appearances, scoring one goal. He played 43 times this season.