Sydney FC have released Mark Bridge three days after new coach Ian Crook indicated the striker was part of his plans for the team’s future.
Bridge, 26, had a year of his contract at the club still to run, but has now been granted an early release.
The two-cap Australia international, together with fellow forward Dimitri Petratos, had been linked with a move to the A-League’s new Western Sydney franchise, only for Crook to dismiss the rumours on Tuesday.
”As far as I’m concerned, Bridge has been training with us constantly, and he is part of Sydney FC,” Crook said.
“Certainly on the playing side he’s been training well, and certainly as far as I’m concerned … he and Petratos, nobody has spoken to me about them going.”
Contrary to Crook’s comments, Sydney have now opted to grant the player’s wish to be allowed to pursue a new challenge.
“I really enjoyed my time at Sydney FC but I felt I needed a change,” Bridge said in a statement on Friday.
“I made a lot of really good mates at Sydney FC and the club was good to me while I was here and I’d like to thank them for agreeing to the release.”
Bridge, a former Parramatta Eagles and Parramatta Power player, made his A-League debut with Newcastle Jets in 2005, switching to Sydney in 2008.
He netted 17 goals in 80 A-League matches for the club, including a goal during regulation play in Sydney’s 2009/10 grand final penalty shootout win over Melbourne Victory.
“Sydney FC would like to thank Mark for his service and contribution over the last three years,” the club’s director of football Gary Cole said.
“He is a premiership and championship winner with Sydney FC and will always be remembered for his goal in the 2009/10 grand final. We wish him all the best in the future.”
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