Manchester City release former star quartet

MANCHESTER: The trio were joined by former Rangers and Everton defender Michael Ball as club manager Mark Hughes reduced his squad ahead of potentially more big name signings to join those of Roque Santa Cruz and Gareth Barry.

Hamann, who was a member of the German side that lost to Brazil in the 2002 World Cup final and the Liverpool side that won the epic 2005 Champions League against AC Milan, failed to play in the last months of the season because of a toe injury.

Both Vassell and Mills also played in the 2002 World Cup finals, with the former going on to win 22 caps, scoring six goals, but the 29-year-old striker has struggled for his place and has been strongly linked with a move to Turkey with Ankaragucu his favoured destination.

Mills, 32 and capped 19 times, was another of the players to leave cash-strapped Leeds United with City being his destination in 2004 - however he rarely made a first team place his own and found himself loaned out to Hull City, Charlton and Derby.

It was at Derby - during their disastrous one season stay in the Premier League - where he picked up a serious knee injury in January 2008 and he has not played since.

Ball, who began his career with Everton before moving on to Rangers and then to PSV Eindhoven where he won the Dutch title under Guus Hiddink, has been capped once by England but struggled to make an impression once Stuart Pearce was replaced by Hughes' predecessor Sven-Goran Eriksson.