Gavin Gunning: Manager says 'no bust-up' over Dundee United exit

By Brian McLauchlinBBC Scotland
Gavin Gunning
Gunning departs three days after a bizarre handball incident against Inverness Caley

Dundee United manager Mixu Paatelainen says there were no bust-ups with Gavin Gunning ahead of the 25-year-old leaving the club on Tuesday.

Paatelainen refused to discuss the reasons for the defender's exit, which United say was "by mutual consent".external-link

But he insists it was not because Gunning picked the ball up mid-play against Inverness Caledonian Thistle.

"That had nothing to do with it," said the United boss. "There haven't been any fall-outs here."

Gunning, who was in his second spell at Tannadice, walked off the field with the ball an hour into Saturday's 2-0 defeat.

He returned to the field to undergo treatment before being substituted to the jeers of home fans.

"He was injured - he got a knock on his upper shin area - and he couldn't carry on," Paatelainen told BBC Scotland.

"He couldn't kick the ball out. That's why he picked the ball up and wanted the game stopped.

"It was quite a bizarre moment because nobody knew what happened there.

"He did indicate before that he had a problem, but obviously the game was rolling. If he went down, Caley Thistle might have had a dangerous attack on our goal."

Following Saturday's defeat, United fell eight points adrift at the foot of the Scottish Premiership and Gunning's exit means he will not be available for Saturday's Scottish Cup semi-final against Hibernian.

"Gavin has left and won't play for us this season," said Paatelainen.

"We keep the facts private, but unfortunately he has gone and we get on with it."

Gunning, a former Republic of Ireland Under-21 international, moved to United from Blackburn Rovers in 2011 and spent three seasons at Tannadice before joining Birmingham City.

A serious knee injury prevented him from making an impression for the Blues and he returned to Tannadice as a free agent in November following a short stint at Oldham Athletic.

The Tayside outfit were booed off at half-time and at the final whistle against Caley Thistle, with Paatelainen describing the performance as "diabolical".

In their official statement, United said of Gunning'e exit: "This is a private matter and the club will not make any further comment."