Aaron Hughes and Conor Sammon leave Hearts

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Aaron Hughes has been released by Hearts (Adam Davy/PA)

Northern Ireland defender Aaron Hughes leads the first batch of Hearts first-team players heading for the Tynecastle exit door this summer.

Striker Conor Sammon – who spent last season on loan at Motherwell – and loanees Demi Mitchell and Conor Shaughnessy are also on the way out.

Hughes – Britain’s most capped defender and Northern Ireland’s most capped outfield player – joined the Jambos in January 2017 on a short-term deal but went on to pen two further contract extensions, making 42 appearances.

Sammon was signed by former boss Robbie Neilson in June 2016 but made just 27 appearances and scored only two goals before spending time on loan at Kilmarnock and Partick Thistle prior to this season’s Fir Park stint.

Manchester United youngster Mitchell had a successful spell in Gorgie last season, racking up 11 appearances after moving north in the January transfer window. He returned for a second loan stint last summer but this time a knee injury sustained in February cut his season short and he now returns to Old Trafford.

Shaughnessy has also gone back to Leeds after joining on a six-month deal during the winter break.

The Republic of Ireland Under-21 international made 11 appearances for Craig Levein’s side.

A spokesman said: “The club would like to thank everyone for their efforts at Hearts and wish them well in the future.”

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