A QUARTET of York City players have spoken of their 'shock' over the handling of the news that would not be offered new contracts.

The Evening Press revealed on Thursday that the out-of-contract eight of Chris Smith, Lee Nogan, Gary Hobson, Christian Fox, Graham Potter, Tom Cowan, Craig Wilding and Jon Collinson would be released in the summer due to financial constraints.

However, Smith, Cowan, Hobson and Wilding only found out the news from reading the Press, or from friends who had seen the announcement on television. And while they knew that under the Bosman ruling they would be free to speak to other clubs as City could not match their current deals, they had hoped to be at least offered lesser terms.

There remains the possibility that some of the squad will be offered new deals later on in the summer. However, there is no promise of who, if any, will get a contract.

Smith, whose release caused the biggest wave of discontent among the City faithful, was at home recovering from a hernia operation when a friend sent him a text message on his mobile phone to say his release was on television, and it wasn't until the 21-year-old got a paper he saw the full details.

"It was quite a shock," Smith told the Evening Press. "I found out by reading the paper. I'm still hoping York will offer me a renewal but I haven't spoken to anyone at the club.

"A friend texted me to say it was on Teletext and then I got the paper to find out the full story. I was away as I had had a hernia operation, so I missed the final training session.

"The players are all asking the same questions as they want to know what is going to happen.

"I know there is a little bit of interest, but my first choice, barring any big club coming in for me, would be York City. I like the club and I think it is going places. If they offered me something reasonable in the current climate then they would be my first choice."

Cowan, echoed Smith's comments. "My mate phoned me at 4pm on Thursday and said he was sorry to hear I had been released," said Cowan, who has attracted the interest of one unnamed club.

"I thought he was joking but he said it was on Teletext. All it would have taken was a phone call to tell us.

"There are rumours that some of us will be re-signed, but we just don't know as nothing has been said."

Smith's centre-half colleague Hobson said: "I've not decided what I'm going to do yet as I've not had the chance to think about it as my son was taken into hospital on Friday.

"There is a long time to go before club start looking at players but there are a couple interested, not that I want to go. It would have to be a really good offer for me to think about uprooting my family. If not I would look at another career.

"I found out when a friend rung me to tell me that it was in the paper. We were told by the gaffer (Terry Dolan) after the Oxford game that we would be on frees because they could not offer us the same money, but we always thought we would be offered lesser terms."

Youngster Wilding, another summer signing, added: "I just know what was in the Press. The gaffer said that he had to wait until he got his budget before he could say who he wanted to keep, but it was quite a shock to find out this way. To be fair the gaffer has told us all he could."

Of the other four players who were released, Collinson was told a week in advance of the final home game against Oxford, while Nogan found out on the day. Fox said that although he was a free agent he would still like to stay play for City. The Evening Press was unable to contact Potter.

Updated: 11:11 Tuesday, May 20, 2003