The reason Jacob Fletcher, James Morris and Morgan James have been released by Doncaster Rovers is because other young players have moved ahead of them, Grant McCann revealed.
The young trio were all handed first year professional contracts last May, along with Cody Prior, but have struggled to progress since.
Of the trio, only Morris made an appearance for the senior side this season, having played six minutes in the EFL Trophy.
And McCann felt it was only right for him to push for an agreement to cancel their contracts and allow them to find new employers before the end of the season when many players find themselves without clubs.
"With those three, people have moved on top of them - AJ Greaves, Cody Prior and people like that,” McCann said. “We want to be fair with people.
“We see this U23 group is starting to take shape and unfortunately for them, they have struggled a little bit and some of the U18s have been really impressive and they've taken over really.
"The other three, they've found it difficult with people coming on top of them really. People like Max Watters and Will Longbottom.
“You've got to be fair with these kids. I'd rather tell them now that people are in front of them and this is where they are in the pecking order.
“As much as we've tried to help you all through this time, others have come in front of you and that's where we are.
"I would rather it be done now if I was a player. The last thing we want to do is wait until the end of the season and tell them then.
“We want to give them the best opportunity.
“Hopefully we have helped them and given them the best opportunities.”
Morris completed a move to Stocksbridge Park Steels on Friday and it is understood James has an agreement with another club.
The next young crop of players has already progressed through with Branden Horton and AJ Greaves having signed professional terms while Rieves Boocock and Myron Gibbons have received offers from Rovers.
Prior looks set to receive an extension to his initial one year contract, which is due to expire in the summer.
McCann has regularly spoken of his fondness for the versatile midfielder and says he has set the standard in terms of attitude young players should adopt.
“If I'm looking back from the start of me coming in, the one that stood out to me was always Cody,” McCann said.
“The one who was at it every day, on it, putting him in a first team session and he'll handle it.
“Cody is still here and we'll see how he goes before we make a decision on it
“We really like him and we'd love to keep him here.
“If you don't develop or you don’t kick on like a Cody Prior has done, or AJ, or young Will McGowan who is a first year scholar - if you don’t kick on then others will take your place.”