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Bull leaves NZ Knights to head home

Defender Ronnie Bull has become the first player to leave the beleaguered New Zealand Knights A-League club, although it is for family rather than football reasons.

Bull, who played at left back for the Knights and had a two-year contract with an option for a third season, has been released by manager John Adshead and will return to England in the next couple of days.

"I'm disappointed. I thought this would be a new life for us," said Bull, 24, who played at Grimsby Town and then Millwall before going to Auckland.

"But things haven't worked out. My wife was brought up for much of her life by her grandmother who is now sick and it is very hard when you are half a world away.

"The gaffer (Adshead) knew something was wrong so we sat down and talked things through."

Bull arrived in June and his wife followed in late August with the couple's two children.

"In the first few weeks things settled down and we were enjoying our life here," he said.

"Then a few things happened back home. Donna Marie was missing her grandmother and one thing led to another.

"We got through that stage but it then became obvious we weren't settling as we wanted."

The Knights have won just one match through the opening 11 rounds of the A-League season and are a distant last place.

Bull had no complaints about how the players had been treated.

"Facility-wise what we have here is better than a lot of clubs in England. It's definitely one of the best I've been to."

Adshead will not rush into finding a replacement but he has discounted any thought of searching for a marquee player.

"I'm a realist and there would be no point in going down that track. We have a number of options but we are also restricted in what we can do," said Adshead, who took an early flight to Perth ahead of Friday's clash with Perth Glory to spend some time with his ailing 91-year-old mother.

"We will not necessarily look at a left back or even a defender."

Despite the results, no other player had approached him with a view to leaving.

The 4-2 loss to Newcastle Jets on Friday night cast the Knights further adrift at the foot of the table, although they did stay within nine points of the team in seventh place when Central Coast Mariners were hammered 5-1 at home by Sydney FC.