Darren Ferguson admitted transfer-listing Andy Williams was the most difficult decision he made as he began shaping his squad for life in League One.
Striker Williams was one of five players made available for transfer yesterday as Ferguson got ruthless in his bid to ready his side following promotion.
The Rovers boss said there has already been interest in the forward, who netted 12 goals this season.
“It was the most difficult one because his goalscoring record is good,” Ferguson told The Star. “I had a good chat with Andy and he understands the reasons for it.
“I just feel we need a bit of improvement, certainly in that area.
“We need to keep getting better and it’s important we do that.
“That was a tough decision and we’ll see how that one goes.
“I’ve got to balance the books which comes into it slightly but this was definitely a footballing decision.”
The 30-year-old scored 16 goals last term as Rovers were relegated. His current record for the club stands at 28 goals in 93 appearances over two seasons.
Along with Williams, youth team graduates Harry Middleton and Mitchell Lund were transfer-listed, with Cedric Evina and goalkeeper Ross Etheridge also instructed to find another club.
While keen to keep Rovers’ options open, Ferguson says the club may not demand transfer fees for the players.
He said: “It depends. We’ll try to get what we can.
“With Andy, he’s on a big salary so it might be just about letting him go. Then there’s his age as well.
“We’re certainly not going to be standing in people’s way and demanding the world for them.
“It’s done now and it finishes off the season.
“A couple of clubs have shown an interest in Cedric and a couple have shown an interest in Andy, which I would fully expect.
“There’s been a couple looking at Ross as well.
“It’s important that I balance the books accordingly.
“I can’t expect to bring players in and not get others out.
Ferguson insists the door will be left open for Williams if he does not find another club this summer.
“He might still be here because he will be going into the last year of his contract. Just because we’ve made him available doesn’t mean he will leave.
“That wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world.”
Paul Keegan, Gary McSheffrey and Aaron Taylor-Sinclair were released at the end of their contracts.