Yeovil Town boss Mark Cooper has said the departure of former club captain Josh Staunton removed “distractions” from the league leaders.

The defender ended his three-and-a-half-year association with the club when his contract was mutually terminated this week.

His last appearance for the club came in the 2-1 defeat Torquay United as the club exited the FA Trophy last month and you have to go back to the end of September when he came on as an 84th minute substitute in a 2-1 win at Hampton & Richmond to find the last National League South action Staunton played.

Speaking to BBC Somerset’s Jack Killah ahead of this weekend’s return fixture against Hampton at Huish Park on Saturday, Cooper said: “Where we are now, the squad doesn’t need any distractions, they need to be left to focus on football and give their best between now and the end of the season. We don’t need any distractions and for Josh it is a chance to go and play.”

Josh Staunton, left, in conversation with manager Mark Cooper. Picture courtesy of Mike Kunz.

He added: “He’s been a focal point of the community, he’s done lots of interviews and speaks very well and has obviously struggled with an injury.

But he’s been here three years and he’s been a good servant. Like Morgan Williams and Matt Worthington he’s been here a long time.

The club has had three or four years of struggle, since the play-offs (in 2020) the club has been near the bottom of the league, and now it is about looking forward.

We want now to be a club that wins games and promotions, not talking about struggle and having to talk about ownership wrangles which Josh did well last year.

We want to be talking about winning games, big crowds, Cup runs, we want to be talking about all that now.

The squad did not need any distractions and we had to do the best thing we could to give us the best platform to go forward.”

Cooper confirmed midfielder Matt Worthington, who has taken the armband in the absence of Staunton, would be the club’s captain, the manager added: “Worthy’s been the go to and he will remain the captain and we will probably name a vice captain.

Asked about the departure of Staunton, top-scorer Rhys Murphy revealed that the captain was one of the people he spoke to before returning for his second spell in Somerset in the summer.

He said: “I got on really well with Josh, he’s a good guy and a good character. In my first spell at the club he had a terrible injury and I remember having a conversation with him towards the end of his rehab and saying that every day he came in and did it right, he never took a day off or took a short cut, and that summed him up.

He led by example, so he was a really good character to have around the place and he will be missed. He was one of the people I spoke to before coming back, he was liked by everyone in the changing room, but, for whatever reason he is on to new things, so I wish him all the best.

The Glovers return to Huish Park for the first time in a month – when they won 4-2 at home to Farnborough – with South Somerset having been beset by torrential rain.

Cooper added: “Our training pitches today (Thursday) were really soft. We’ve stayed off the main pitch since the Farnborough game, and hopefully we get a couple of dry days and it will be fine.

The pitch at Dartford (last weekend) was really good and we showed that with the way we moved the ball in the first half, compare that to (the 4-1 defeat at) Welling it is chalk and cheese, but you have to adapt and find a way.

We are looking forward to being at home in front of a big crowd this weekend.

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4 months ago

Whilst accepting that “Staunts” didn’t have the greatest of starts I am sorry to see him go, especially under a perceived cloud. If Staunton was, allegedly, a “distraction” then with his love for the club, effort and dedication over the last few years we could do with a whole lot more distractions in the current squad

4 months ago
Reply to  Mick

Good luck for the future Josh and THANK YOU for keeping the dream going through the worst ?