*BS*ANDY HESSENTHALER says the speculation linking him with a return to Gillingham has been an unwelcome distraction from the important business of planning a promotion push next season.

*BF*The Whites boss had to field calls all day yesterday – and again today – from journalists desperate to land the scoop of who Paul Scally is going to appoint as Gills boss.

Hess once again reiterated: “I’ve had absolutely no contact with Gillingham. They’ve not called me and I’m not expecting a call.

“I had a great time at Gillingham and the fans there have put me in the frame, and that’s very nice of them.

“Of course, I want to get back into the Football League one day again and my chairman won’t stand in my way – but Gillingham have not contacted me and I’m only interested in my job as Dover Athletic manager.”

Hess confirmed he is releasing John Whitehouse, Jake Leberl, Danny Walder and Frannie Collin.

He said: “Frannie is the big eye-opener I’m sure. He’s been superb for us, scoring a lot of goals.

“But I just feel Frannie needs a new challenge – and I’m going to be helping him get a new club. He won’t be short of offers because he’s a brilliant player.”

“Danny’s come here and not done much wrong – but we’ve offered Matt Fish a new deal and I don’t see Danny ahead of him.

“John Whitehouse is a fans’ favourite and again done well during his time here but Lee Hook and Ross Flitney are ahead of him – and John needs to be playing.

“And Jake has done brilliant. His attitude has been good. But football may not be his biggest priority now after having a baby. He’s a terrific lad, struggled a bit with injuries and we need to cut our cloth to have funds to freshen things up.

“He certainly goes with our very best wishes – as do all the boys!”

Lee Hook is having a minor knee operation this summer but remains on the transfer list.

Craig Cloke will be offered an incentive pay-as-you-play deal due to his injury problems – while the rest of the squad have been offered new contracts.

Hess said: “We fell just short of going up. I don’t think we will have a Newport type of team in there next season and the title race will be much closer.

“I’ve got irons in the fire and am talking to a couple of lads next week. We needed to free up some funds to bring new players in – and that’s what we’re doing.”