Peterhead have put Shane Sutherland up for sale – with manager Jim McInally criticising Elgin and Inverness Caley Thistle for attempting to turn his head.
The striker returned for a second spell at the Blue Toon at the end of January after a fee was agreed with Elgin.
However, in the closing weeks of the season the 28-year-old’s performances were not what the Buchan outfit had been hoping for.
As a result the decision was taken yesterday to put Sutherland, who has a year left on his contract at Balmoor, on the transfer list.
McInally believes Sutherland’s form hasn’t been what was expected because his head was turned by former club Inverness Caley Thistle.
The Highlanders approached Elgin about Sutherland after the deal to join Peterhead had been completed.
Someone then informed Sutherland, who was keen for a return to full-time football with Inverness, of the interest.
But Peterhead didn’t want to sell him.
McInally said: “This has happened because we don’t think Shane’s head has been in it since day one.
“There is a reason for that and it’s not public knowledge and it’s not really Shane’s fault.
“The day after we signed him someone from Elgin or Inverness Caley Thistle let Shane know that Inverness had made a bid for him.
“It was a day too late because we had done the deal.
“But it was deadline day so Shane spent the rest of that day trying to get us to sell him to Inverness.
“As a club we had to make a stance that we couldn’t let Inverness come in and walk all over us.
“If they’d offered more money it might have been different.
“But they only offered what we had paid for him so as a club we made a stance and kept him.
“It was a good decision to a certain extent because we lost Derek Lyle for six weeks with a broken ankle and we needed Shane.
“But for Shane it’s been a bit of a disaster and we’re doing this for his sake.
“He wanted back up the road to Inverness and he feels we denied him that and I think that reflected in his performances.”
McInally is disappointed Sutherland’s second spell with the Blue Toon has turned out like this.
And the Balmoor gaffer hit out at the person who unsettled Sutherland by making him aware of the interest from Inverness.
He added: “It’s a shame it’s turned out like this because we had been pursuing Shane for a long time.
“And he had been keen to join us again for a long time.
“But Caley Thistle coming in changed things – whoever told Shane about that interest shouldn’t be too proud of themselves.
“I think they played with Shane’s head and it was unfair on him.
“So whether it was someone from Elgin or Inverness they should have let him be because our deal had already gone through.
“Maybe it was what somebody wanted to happen. But regardless, what happened hasn’t been fair on Shane.”