West Brom manager Steve Bruce admitted it was a “really tough decision” to release Andy Carroll.
The former England striker, who joined as a free agent in January and scored three goals in 15 appearances, was left out of the squad for the 1-0 Championship victory at Reading and will not play for the club again.
A headed effort from Albion’s Semi Ajayi, which struck a post, proved to be the only highlight of a poor first half from both sides.
Though the fare barely improved in the second period, the visitors secured the win 12 minutes from time when top scorer Karlan Grant drilled home his 16th goal of the season.
Carroll, 33, also scored two goals in eight games for Reading before moving to The Hawthorns.
Bruce said: “We’ve got two centre forwards [Daryl Dike and Kenneth Zohore] who we’ve paid a lot of money for and they’re both No 9s.
“Andy Carroll has done great for us. He’s in better nick now than he’s ever been in the last few years.
“He’s done tremendously well here, it’s just unfortunate we’ve got those two centre forwards.
“And if I added a third one to it, well, I think I really need to strengthen in other areas rather than at No 9.
“I know how popular Andy was in the dressing-room and it was a really tough decision to make but I’ve got to think of the overall balance of the squad.”
Of the 1-0 victory, Bruce added: “I thought we were comfortable in the match.
“At the start, it was a bit like a testimonial. There was nothing really on the game and it was a nice sunny day.
“In the second half, we were also comfortable and maybe should have put the game to bed earlier.
“We’ve had three or four chances after we’ve gone 1-0 up. But there were a lot of things I was pleased with.
“There’s still a bit of work to do but that is the way forward that I’d like to go.
“It was all with next season in mind, when we start afresh. There’s a lot of food for thought.”
Despite the defeat, Reading had already avoided relegation before kick off.
Interim boss Paul Ince said: “I suppose it was a bit of an end-of-season game. It kind of had that feeling to it.
“It’s never nice when it’s your last game at home for the season.
“The fans came along to show their support and, when they do that, you want to try to get a good result for them.
“When you have two teams who are safe, I think that, subconsciously, it can all pan out that way.
“It was a nice day, everyone wanted to enjoy it. I’m just disappointed for the fans.
“I thought we played well. It was a mistake that gave them the three points but I can live with that.
“That’s all it was, that’s the bottom line.”
Ince will meet with Dai Yongge, Reading’s Chinese owner, next week to discuss his future at the club.
He added: “We all want the same thing and it’s just a question of how we get there.
“It will be a civil conversation and we’ll work out the way to go.”
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