LUKE Byles looks like joining the exodus of experienced Eastleigh players making way for the club’s exciting venture into full-time football.

The ex-Saints defender is believed to be head ing back to Australia and is in negotiations with the Blue Square Bet South outfit about the possible termina tion of his contract.

Should he go, Byles would become the tenth player to be exiting the Silverlake Stadium this summer following con firmation that nine oth ers have been released – goalkeeper Jason Matthews, defenders Brett Poate and Warren Goodhind, midfielders Anthony Riviere, Peter Adeniyi, Shaun McAuley, Richard Graham and Ian Herring and frontline battering ram Jamie Brown.

After an outstanding 2008/09 campaign help ing Eastleigh to their all-time highest finish of third, Byles went off travelling for a year.

He returned to the ranks last October but, having come straight out of the Australian season into the rigours of the Conference South, the 27-year-old lacked a bit of his old sharpness and strug gled to reach the highs of two seasons ago.

“Luke is almost defi nitely going back to Australia,” confirmed Eastleigh’s director of football Dave Malone.

“He’s got an Australian girlfriend who wants to go back home and we’ve agreed a termination of his contract.

“It suits Luke and it suits us.”

Along with frontman Richard Gillespie, Byles is one of just two Spitfires contracted for next season.

Negotiations are con tinuing with players such as leading scorer Jamie Slabber, skipper Tom Jordan and winger Tony Taggart, who were not on the released list, but the bulk of the squad who finished a disappointing eighth last term are on their way out of the Silverlake.

“Instead of having 16 or 18 dyed-in-the-wool Conference South players, we are changing our whole strategy to a squad made up half of experienced players and half of young, aspiring professionals,” Malone explained.

“To accommodate the young professionals, both financially and in terms of the team, we had to make decisions on players we felt we’d had the best of.

“On paper last season we had the best squad of players in the five years I’ve been here, but we didn’t get into the play-offs.

“We’ve had to look at things on a value for money basis and Bairdy (manager Ian Baird) has had to make decisions on which are the best players to take us forward.

“It’s not a case of just booting players out, but time moves on and we have to look to the future.

“Jason, Rivs, Peter and Warren, in particular, have been exceptionally loyal to Eastleigh and a credit to themselves in the way they have served the club. I’m sad to see all the released players go. Good luck to all of them.”

Rather than dwell on the past, the Spitfires are already making plans for the future.

Since advertising their Player Development Programme nationally, they have been inundated with calls from ambitious, young players keen to take up the offer of full-time training and a chance to showcase their abilities in the Conference South.

Forty players have already been booked in for the assessment days, which kick off next week (May 20/21).

“How many of these players will be good enough, I don’t know, but we’re just generating as much interest as we can,” said Malone. “We’re continually getting phone calls, some from players from clubs in this area who I didn’t think would express an interest. It seems some really do like the idea of full-time football.”