To some, 11 January exits might look like a fire sale but Fleetwood Town assistant coach Clint Hill said the departures were for simple footballing reasons.
Town had a busy month with Chris Long (Blackpool), Cian Bolger (Lincoln City), Bobby Grant (Wrexham), Michael Donohue (FC United and Matty Urwin (Chorley) all leaving on a permanent basis.
They also loaned out Kyle Dempsey (Peterborough United), Conor McAleny (Kilmarnock), Lewis Baines (Stockport County), Gethin Jones (Mansfield) and Harvey Saunders (Darlington) to further their development.
Also on his way was Tommy Spurr with injury cutting short his loan from Preston North End.
“It is not budget-wise,” Hill said of the lengthy departure list.
“It is because we (Hill and head coach Joey Barton) played the game and we have only finished playing so early that we understand players need to play football.
“We came in, in the summer, and we had a good look at the lads and we gave them a chance to play over the last six months.
“It has not happened for whatever reason and we have had to give them the chance to go and play football.
“We could have kept them here and gone through the motions but, to be fair to them, we have let them go play first-team football and stand by our word.
“The likes of Conor, Demps, Bobby Grant and big Bolge have been part of the club’s history.
“But we have to stand by them as men and footballers and let them go play football but we wish them all the best.”
As well as Saunders, Town also brought an – as yet – unannounced signing into the club on deadline day, while central defender Harry Souttar also joined on loan from Stoke City.
And Hill is pleased with the squad that 10th-placed Town have at their disposal going into the second half of the campaign as he stressed the senior players departing also clears a pathway for the club’s academy youngsters.
When asked if he was happy with the squad he said: “Definitely.
“I think we have good depth, a mixture of experience and the young lads coming through.
“With letting a few lads go we are not stopping the young lads coming through.
“The likes of Hilly (James Hill), (Ryan) Rydel, they are the ones that are going to come through over the next year or 18 months.
“I think it was very important that pathway was not blocked up.
“Hopefully they see the opportunity and they are going to take it.”