Gavin Gunning remains a Dundee United player despite being told he is free to go and that he won’t be appearing for the club again.
The Irishman was at the centre of a storm during the Tangerines’ 2-0 home defeat to Inverness Caley Thistle when he picked the ball up during open play, claiming he was injured and needing treatment.
United released a statement on Tuesday, declaring that: “Gavin Gunning has left Dundee United by mutual consent. This is a private matter and the club will not make any further comment.”
However, manager Mixu Paatelainen did address the issue yesterday as he looked to draw a line under the Gunning controversy ahead of Saturday’s William Hill Scottish Cup semi-final against Hibs at Hampden.
Paatelainen admitted that the central defender remains on the books and is even able to report for training if he so wishes.
He also stressed that there has been no “fight” behind the scenes involving the player.
The United boss said: “The house situation is that he is free to go, basically.
“The club carries on paying his wages, as before.
“But he is free to go because he will not play again.
“There is that agreement.”
Asked if Gunning would be training with the first-team squad if he does report for work, Paatelainen added: “Well, we will face that if it comes.”
The Finn admitted that Saturday’s handball incident was one of the oddest he had witnessed during his time in football.
He said: “It is one of the strangest, yes.
“I understand why Gavin did that.
“He was injured, he wanted the game to be stopped, like he said to us.
“He could not kick the ball because he got a knock on his leg.
“He wanted the game to be stopped instead of just going down and possibly Caley Thistle having an attack, so he decided to pick the ball up and stop the game doing that.
“I won’t go into any reasons (for Gunning being told he can go) but one thing I want to say is that he has been a good teammate to all the players.
“I know there is a real mystery now about this but unfortunately I am not in a position to go into any more details.”
Paatelainen did, however, wish to stress that there had been no dressing-room rammy.
“Within the camp there has been no problem at all,” he said.
“I want to clarify that.
“There has not been any fight or any problem in the dressing room – that is why I said that.
“But, yes, I am sure it may have unsettled some players.
“Yes, I have discussed it with them, of course.
“They are very disappointed but now we get on with the job.”