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Four released as Gavin Cowan continues to shape AFC Telford United squad

James McQuilkin and Darryl Knights are two of four first-team squad members to have departed AFC Telford United.

Darryl Knights, left, and James McQuilkin have departed AFC Telford United after two seasons at the club
Darryl Knights, left, and James McQuilkin have departed AFC Telford United after two seasons at the club

The pair are joined through the exit door by longest-serving player Jon Royle and defender Arlen Birch as boss Gavin Cowan continues to build for the 2020/21 season.

Midfield duo McQuilkin, 31, and Knights, 32, had two seasons at the New Bucks Head, the latter of which was ended prematurely due to the coronavirus pandemic.

They were signed in Cowan's first summer in charge and played important roles in Telford's memorable 2018/19 campaign, where the Bucks missed out on the National North play-offs by one goal and reached the FA Trophy semi-finals.

McQuilkin made 70 appearances for Telford, scoring five goals. Knights played 64 times, netting on seven occasions.

Also leaving the club is 25-year-old defensive midfielder Jon Royle, who first arrived on loan from Southport in September 2016.

'Joffy' became an integral part of a number of Bucks teams, clocking up 101 appearances in his five season at the club. The Welshman struggled for game time last season and was sent on loan to league rivals Bradford Park Avenue.

Full-back Birch, 23, who grew up in Ellesmere, was brought in by Cowan last October as the boss made mid-season changes to his ranks after a stuttering start. Birch signed fresh terms in January and made 20 appearances in all for the Bucks.

All four players were out of contract at the New Bucks Head.

The departure news comes after Cowan tied down the futures of end-of-season award winners Adam Walker and Brendon Daniels, as well as defender Zak Lilly, while Henry Cowans has been invited to pre-season training.

They join Shane Sutton, Ross White and Aaron Williams already under contract.

Cowan said: “All four players have been a pleasure to work with. The level of trust we have in each other made for a difficult decision but ultimately both parties decided what was best.

"I’d personally like to thank each of them for totally committing to the club and its values and wish them all the success moving forward as colleagues and friends.”

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