Championship relegation candidates Peterborough United have shocked fans by transfer listing four of their first-team players following a “breach of club discipline”.

It was announced yesterday that Gabriel Zakuani, Nathaniel Mendez-Laing, Emile Sinclair and Tyrone Barnett would be placed on the transfer list with immediate effect. Although unconfirmed by the Posh, it is believed an incident on a night out has triggered the decision, which was made by head coach Darren Ferguson.

The club released the following statement: “Peterborough United are disappointed to report that Gabriel Zakuani, Nathaniel Mendez-Laing, Emile Sinclair and Tyrone Barnett have been transfer listed and fined by the football club following an internal investigation into a breach of club discipline.

“The club will be making no further comment on the matter.”

Zukuani has made over 150 appearances for the Posh, and is also the club captain – but will most likely be stripped of his armband. The Congolese defender responded to the decision on Twitter, claiming his innocence.

“I went out on a weekend where there’s no midweek game. Those that know me know I don’t drink or smoke, I was up at 8am for church next day.

“Honestly at the time I didn’t feel I did anything wrong as I was home around 2am, I wasn’t arrested, no fighting or anti-social behaviour.

“I understand the club are not happy as we are at the wrong end of the table and I have nothing but total respect for the gaffer and staff.”

Sinclair and Barnett are spending their second season at Peterborough since moving up the divisions from League 2. The latter’s transfer from Crawley Town in February 2012 after spending a spell on loan at the Posh was a costly £1.1 million. Mendez-Laing signed from Wolves just a few months ago.

The club’s chairman Darragh MacAnthony responed to aggressive complaints from fans by stating he supported Darren Ferguson’s decision. MacAnthony tweeted late last night: “Just back from trip & arrived in my office to mountains of tweets. A lot of them full of abuse & anger aimed at me. Now I really am baffled.

“The Club has made a statement as you all know & I am fully behind the Gaffer on his course of action today,” he added.

“I need my lads to show some common sense, humility, class & stay – focused on battle in hand. If they can’t be trusted to do that, then Posh will be stronger without them going forward. Harsh but true!”

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