Gloucestershire have released Steve Kirby from the final two years of his contract after he requested the chance to play Division One Championship cricket to push his England claims.

Kirby, 32, has been with Gloucestershire for six years having joined from Leicestershire and has reached as far as England Lions honours with his pace bowling, but wants to give the chance of a full international career one more push even though that remains an outside possibility. This season hasn't been prolific for Kirby with 29 wickets at 28.79 from 10 Championship matches.

"This decision has not been an easy one, especially given the fact that I had been awarded a benefit next year but I am very ambitious and still have the desire and hunger to win things and to achieve my dream of one day playing for England," Kirby said. "I don't want to finish my career with any regrets and wonder what might have been. I definitely have unfinished business and there are many things I still want to achieve in this game."

The club are making plans to introduce a number of young players into the squad for next season with the county providing a strong influx to the England Under-19 set-up. Gloucestershire's hopes of promotion to Division One were virtually ended by their defeat to Derbyshire despite removing the opposition for 44 in their first innings.

"We are not going to stand in Steve's way now that he has expressed a wish to continue his career elsewhere," Tom Richardson, the chief executive, said. " He has done very well for us over six seasons on the field and has made a big contribution. We want to thank him for his service to the club and wish him well for the future.

"Plans were already in place to rejuvenate the squad by signing some younger players over the next couple of years and we will bring these forward. We have had five players represent England Under-19s over the past two years and Steve's departure will create further opportunities for these younger players."