JAMES FORD has revealed that joint top-scorer Dee Foggin-Johnston was allowed to leave York City Knights because he had to miss too many training sessions.

Foggin-Johnston finished his maiden season at Bootham Crescent with 15 tries from 19 appearances, including a memorable hat-trick at champions Toronto followed a week later by four against Hemel.

But, unlike fellow top-scorer Joe Batchelor, who penned a new deal with the club, winger DFJ was on the eight-strong release list alongside long-serving quintet Pat Smith, James Haynes, Ben Dent, Jonny Presley and Ryan Mallinder plus Harry Tyson-Wilson and Liam Thompson.

Speculation is growing he is to join veteran forward Mallinder and young half-back Tyson-Wilson in signing for League One rivals Hunslet.

Ford conceded the winger's release may have been a surprise to fans but explained: "Dee's work commitments changed towards the back end of the season meaning he couldn't always get to training.

"We're trying to build a culture here and part of that means everyone being available at every session.

"Dee produced some good performances and some really exciting moments, but I have to judge a player on the full package, which includes coachability, availability for training and their potential in our environment, and sometimes you have to make tough calls.

"I would've liked to have kept Dee but I have to make a decision in terms of what I think is right for this club as a whole."

He added: "I can't spend silly money on this team - I want to produce a sustainable club which is successful for many years.

"I believe we're doing that the right way and while I'm head coach that's how we will do it.

"That is not a slight on anyone who is leaving - they all go with our best wishes."

Former captains Smith and Haynes - along with Presley as reported last month - are believed to be retiring from professional rugby league, while Dent may be joining League One rivals Newcastle.

Smith, a half-back or hooker, joined York from Sheffield ahead of the 2014 season, at the end of which he was nominated as League One Player of the Year.

He missed only two matches in his first two seasons with his hometown club but, with work commitments picking up, he only played a bit-part role this year.

In all he made 74 appearances, scoring 26 tries and two goals.

Fellow stalwart Dent, a Germany international who rose through the ranks after joining from local amateurs New Earswick, made his first-team debut in 2012 and was the club's top-scorer in his breakthrough 2014 season, but also saw opportunities limited this year.

In all, the winger-cum-full-back scored 40 tries and 70 goals in 83 appearances.

Full-back-cum-centre Haynes has overcome a raft of career-threatening injuries since first joining the club in late 2010, when he went on to be The Press man of the match in the memorable National League Two Grand Final win over Oldham.

Those injuries restricted his total number of appearances to 88 - his best season in that regard coming this year, with 18. In all he scored 22 tries and 57 goals.

Mallinder joined York midway through 2013 from the amateur game and went on to play 59 times before suffering a potentially career-ending leg break in May last year.

He battled back and played four more times late this season, including in the epic play-off defeat at Whitehaven. He scored 16 tries in all.

Said Ford: "Ryan is a player we wanted to keep but he had a really good opportunity at Hunslet.

"It's important to acknowledge how committed Ryan has been to this club over a number of years, and the character he showed to come back from serious injury."

On half-back Tyson-Wilson, who played three times on loan last year and 15 times this term, scoring seven tries and 43 goals in all, Ford said: "We made Harry an offer earlier in the season but we were just at different ends of the scale in terms of the finer details, and he's got an offer to play more often at Hunslet.

"I still believe Harry could develop into a really good half-back."

Ford also hoped Mallinder and Tyson-Wilson will help to make York's old arch-rivals a force again after they missed out on this year's Super 8s.

"Hunslet have signed a good player and someone I think who will support Gary Thornton (Hunslet boss) in making adjustments to the culture at that club.

"We want Hunslet to be a strong team. It'd be great to have really competitive games against them next year."

Ford added of all the departees: "We wish them all the best for the future whether it's in rugby or away from rugby and they will always be welcome back."

Back-rower Thompson, meanwhile, played only six times for York after arriving with Batchelor from Coventry Bears a year ago.