The Central Coast Mariners insist they did all they could to help troubled midfielder Troy Hearfield, who is facing a prolonged suspension from competitive football after failing a drugs test.


The former Newcastle and Wellington player underwent a test following the round four match against Melbourne Heart - a 1-0 win at AAMI Park - and never played for the Mariners again. The 25-year old tested positive for a quantity of recreational substances.


However, Fairfax Media understands the club are seething at reports they sacked the midfielder as a direct result of the drugs test.


"Central Coast Mariners wish to advise that Troy Hearfield approached the club in early February seeking a release from his contract. The club and Troy then mutually agreed to terminate his contract at that time," said a statement released by the club on Friday. "No further comment regarding this matter will be made by the Central Coast Mariners until such time as the process is complete."

They are adamant the separation of the two parties was entirely mutual and only came after prolonged work with Hearfield as he battled to come to terms with personal issues outside the game.


Hearfield faced a tribunal at FFA headquarters two weeks ago and is now waiting to hear his fate, which could range between a ban of 12 months and five years. He has put forward his personal circumstances as a cause for leniency.

The club allowed Hearfield to scale down his training commitments to one day a week for three months after the drugs test, offering ongoing support to the former Australia under-20s representative.


Despite the lingering issues of the failed test and personal problems, and that he had limited contact hours and was not in contention for the first team, the Mariners continued to pay his full wages.


The matter was brought to a head two months ago, when both player and club decided it was best for Hearfield to leave. The Mariners decided not to release a statement at the time and played down subsequent enquiries in an attempt to shield the player.


It was no secret that Hearfield was battling personal issues but as fan speculation grew as to why he was no longer involved, the Mariners issued a statement on their official Facebook page.


‘‘Many people have asked about Troy Hearfield, and we thank you for your interest,’’ the club wrote on January 21.

‘‘Troy remains on our books and in training with the club. However his matter is a personal one, and out of respect to him, we will not be disclosing further information to the public.’’


The club has since been ordered by the FFA not to make any official comments about Hearfield’s situation until the tribunal process is concluded.


The Tamworth-born player had a particularly strong connection with Mariners coach Graham Arnold, who selected Hearfield for several squads in the qualification tournament for the 2008 Olympics.


Arnold continually praised Hearfield for his versatility and work ethic, often saying he provided a different dynamic when he came off the bench.


Hearfield played a crucial role in the Mariners’ run to the Premiers Plate last season, playing 28 matches and scoring two goals.


He participated in the first four matches of this season as a substitute but has not played since, leaving him stranded on 117 career games since he began life with the Newcastle Jets in 2006. Hearfield still lives in Newcastle and played 15 games for the club in two years before adding 70 matches over three years with Wellington.


Hearfield also spent four months on loan with Indonesian club Pelita Jaya in 2011, where he earned high praised from coach Misha Radovic for playing a starring role in central defence.


Perhaps Hearfield’s finest career moment came when he scored a spectacular strike for the Mariners against Scottish giants Celtic in friendly at ANZ Stadium in the 87th minute, an effort that clinched a memorable 1-0 win.