MICHAEL Timlin and Marc-Antoine Fortune have left Southend United.

The experienced duo were among those the Shrimpers had originally been planning to discuss new deals with.

But Blues boss Chris Powell has now allowed them to depart.

“I made decisions on players right at the end of the season, there were five players we were talking to and my intention was to keep them all,” said Powell.

“Unfortunately with what I’m trying to plan it’s been very hard for me to keep Michael and Marco.

It’s disappointing because they both did very well for me in the 18 games but I’ve got plans for the future.”

Timlin joined the Shrimpers on a permanent basis in January 2012 after two previous spells on loan and made 262 appearances for the club.

The 33-year-old midfielder played a key part in Blues’ promotion from League Two in 2015 and will be best remembered for scoring in the play-off semi-final second leg against Stevenage just days after suffering a sickening clash of heads.

And Powell admitted it had been a tough decision to make.

“Michael was a hard one because he’s been here a long time,” said the Shrimpers chief.

“I know it’s been up and down for him but I can only talk about him in the 18 games I had with him and he was very, very good.

“I am going to bolster the midfield because we’ve lost a lot of players in that area.

“I want to be fair to Michael too because it may be harder for him to play here.

“But as I’ve said to him personally we will see what the future holds.

“I’m trying to be as fair as I can with him and I have to do this because of the plans for the future.”

Fortune will also be moving on from Roots Hall after spending the last two seasons with the club.

The 37-year-old scored 10 goals in 76 games for Blues but will not be back next season.

“Unfortunately the way we’re going and what we’re trying to do there won’t be a contract here for Marco next season,” said Powell.

“He’s a wonderful, wonderful person and a brilliant professional.

“He’s one the players will look up to because he looks after himself.

“He does have some brilliant attributes too but I have to look at what’s best for us moving forward for next season.

“It’s really unfortunate but I have to make these judgements calls in trying to improve us as a football club.”

Blues remain in contract talks with Michael Turner, Mark Oxley and Simon Cox.