THERE is little room for sentimentality in football, and Saints were right not to show any of it in this year’s retained and released list.
The club were ruthless in their approach, revealing that they will jettison all of their first-team players who are out of contract this summer.
The emphasis was undoubtedly on the ‘released’ rather than the ‘retained’.
Headlining the departures are David Connolly, Bartosz Bialkowski, Lee Holmes and Radhi Jaidi, who is retiring.
It is a group that has served the club well, but Saints’ promotion to the Premier League was always going to result in casualties within the squad.
These are almost certainly just the beginning of them.
Some cold and calculating decisions have to be made this summer in order to create a team that can survive and ultimately thrive in the top flight.
Who is good enough to cut it among the elite, and who isn’t? That is what manager Nigel Adkins and chairman Nicola Cortese must weigh up.
Saying goodbye can be hard, especially when it is to players who have helped you achieve a promotion.
But Saints must move on and evolve. They can’t afford to be carrying bodies they don’t think will be of use to them in the Premier League.
Adkins must name a 25-man squad from which he can pick next season, and Saints already have a fairly substantial group of players. Some are likely to miss out, especially as new signings are added.
But, by releasing their out-of-contract stars, the club has created some room for manoeuvre.
It was the smart move. They simply have to trim the squad before they begin to beef it up again.
To read the full assessment of Saints' retained and released list, see tomorrow's Daily Echo..