Ian Baraclough has broken his silence after being sacked as manager of Scunthorpe United, pointing to the difficulties of avoiding relegation despite losing key players.

He said he was  "deeply saddened to be leaving", and suggested he felt his job was made harder by the departures of key players last summer and in the January transfer window.

Baraclough lost his job late on Tuesday evening, when the Iron's board sacked him, his assistant Kevin Pressman and first-team coach Steve Parkin following the home loss to Preston.

Iron fans on the Doncaster Road terrace had called for him to be shown the door during the second-half of the abysmal performance.

"This season has proved very demanding, given that the club sold a number of key players during the close season and it was always going to be difficult to improve on the 20th place finish of last season," said Baraclough.

"Losing Gary Hooper, the club’s top scorer in the past two seasons, Paul Hayes and Marcus Williams, as well as other key players including Martyn Woolford, Matt Sparrow and Grant McCann, made the task of holding our own in a competitive Championship increasingly hard. "

Baraclough only took charge of the first-team in September, when the previous manager Nigel Adkins and assistant Andy Crosby left for Southampton.

Despite winning 4-0 at Sheffield United in his first game, results - particularly at home - deteriorated quickly.

A large number of signings in the January transfer window brought hope, with 10 points gathered from four home games prior to Saturday's 3-0 loss to Leicester which was followed by the same scoreline against the league's bottom club.

"With recent key victories over Nottingham Forest, Swansea City and Sheffield United combined with great performances in those matches, the coaching staff and I were confident that we could stay up," added Baraclough.

Tony Daws, the Iron's youth team coach, is in charge of the first-team on a caretaker basis ahead of Saturday's trip to Ipswich Town.

Brian Laws, a former Iron manager, remains the bookmaker's favourite to replace Baraclough but the club have said they will not rush an appointment with a two-week international break following the weekend's fixtures.