Leeds United: Wootton and Antenucci head list of departures

Lewis Walters.
Lewis Walters.
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LEEDS UNITED have officially confirmed the departure of eight players – including first-teamers Mirco Antenucci and Scott Wootton – in their retained list for 2015-16.

Young professionals Eric Grimes, Lewis Walters, Robbie McDaid, Ross Killock, Jake Skelton and Tom Lyman have also been released by the club.

New terms have been offered to Bailey Peacock-Farrell, Frank Mulhern, Eoghan Stokes, Tyler Denton and Alex Purver, alongside second-year scholars Jack Vann, Tom Pearce and Michael Taylor.

Meanwhile, the club have confirmed that loan trio Liam Bridcutt, Tom Adeyemi and Mustapha Carayol have returned to parent clubs Sunderland, Cardiff City and Middlesbrough respectively.

Italian forward Antenucci revealed after United’s final game of the Championship season at Preston that he was to move on at the end of his two-year deal after joining from Ternana in the summer of 2014.

The 31-year-old, who netted 19 times in 74 appearances for the Whites, is now expected to return to his homeland, with the likes of Parma, Hellas Verona, Palermo and more recently Birmingham City all linked.

Wootton, 24, leaves Elland Road in somewhat bizarre circumstances, following the recent revelation that a contract extension handed to him last year – which would have seen him remain at the club until the end of the 2016-17 campaign – was never finalised.

Also seeking pastures new is forward Walters, 21, who has failed to make the step up to the first team alongside contemporaries such as Lewis Cook, Alex Mowatt and Kalvin Phillips.

Hopes were high that the Harrogate-born player could make a first-team push during the 2014-15 campaign, only for his quest to be ravaged after he suffered a serious knee injury.

Republic of Ireland youth international Grimes, also 21, also leaves United without a first-team appearance to his name alongside McDaid.

The Northern Ireland under-21 forward, 19, spent the second half of the season on loan at National League outfit Lincoln City, where he found the net four times in 16 appearances, 13 of which came from the bench.

Also leaving United are midfielder Tom Lyman, 19 and young defenders Ross Killock, 21, and Jake Skelton, 20 – with the latter failing to make the first-team breakthrough after being a surprise inclusion to the first-team squad for the club’s summer training camp in northern Italy in 2014 by then head coach David Hockaday.

Securing the future of highly-rated young keeper Peacock-Farrell, who made his Championship debut for the Whites in the 1-1 draw with QPR on Elland Road, is likely to United’s priority on the contractual front. The 19-year-old is understood to have asked United for clarity about the identity of their next head coach, the club’s likely choice for the position of goalkeeping coach – following the departure of Richard Hartis – and their plans for him next season before deciding whether to commit to a two-year deal.

Hartis worked closely with Darlington-born custodian Peacock-Farrell, understudy to first-choice kepeer Marco Silvestri since November, before his departure to the England youth set up.

Dublin-born forward Stokes, 20, is also among those mulling over fresh terms, with Steve Evans revealing that only injury scuppered his hopes of first-team squad involvement towards the end of 2015-16.

Doncaster-born striker Mulhern was also name-checked by Evans for doing his bid to earn a new deal no harm at all in the closing months of the season.

Meanwhile, scholars Tyla Bell and Jack Turnbull have also been released.

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