MIKE Newell yesterday released his first batch of players from Victoria Park.

The Hartlepool United boss handed a free transfer to defender Gordon Simms, while four of Martin Scott's youth team won't be kept on.

Simms, a regular in the Northern Ireland Under-21 side, has been at Pool for two years after his release from Wolves and has made 13 appearances as Graeme Lee and Chris Westwood took up the central defensive roles.

Newell and assistant Kevin Sheedy watched the defender on international duty last month as Ireland lost to Armenia.

Marc Batey, Stephen Flockett, Stephen Manson and Colin McKenzie have also been released after serving their three-year scholarships.

"I know exactly what they are feeling,'' said Newell. "At the same age I was told by Liverpool that I wasn't good enough and had to start again. Now it's up to them to prove us wrong.''

The Pool boss recently saw Mark Tinkler, Micky Barron, Adam Boyd, Chris Westwood and Ritchie Humphreys sign new deals and still has ten players out of contract - Lee, Mark Robinson, Jermaine Easter, Tommy Widdrington, Paul Arnison, Jon Bass, James Sharp, Brian Ross, Paul Smith and Gordon Watson.

It is understood that Lee has been offered a new deal and Newell has yet to decide on the futures of the other players.

Newcastle youngster Joe Kendrick appeared for Pool's reserves on Wednesday as they lost 2-0 at home to Grimsby and his St James' Park teammate Aaron Lebont appeared as a second half substitute.

Read more about Hartlepool here.