WREXHAM centre-back Manny Smith has been forced into early retirement at the age of 31 after failing to overcome a serious knee injury.

Smith first sustained the injury in the 1-0 defeat at Solihull Moors on August 27, 2018, and although the centre-back played 90 minutes of Wrexham's 2-0 win over Eastleigh on December 8, 2018, he suffered a set-back and never featured for the Reds again.

Reds boss Dean Keates said last month that he was optimistic that Smith would play again as the defender was making good progress but his contract at The Racecourse has now been cancelled.

Smith, who returned to Wrexham for a second spell in the summer of 2017 having previously played for the Reds from 2014 to 2016, remains upbeat despite having to hang up his boots.

“There is no need to be sorry or anything, it’s the start of a whole new chapter for me," said Smith.

“I would like to thank the fans and everyone at Wrexham for supporting me throughout my time at the club. As with anything, it's had its ups and downs, but luckily for me there's been far more ups than downs.

“I’ve not had the best 18-months with the injury, I had five operations in a five month period, but after all of that I know I have made the right decision all round, for the club, my family and for myself.

“My family have always been made to feel welcome by everyone at the club and that alone has made my time enjoyable.”

Talking about the support Wrexham have provided him, Smith added: “Physiotherapist Phil Davies has gone above and beyond the call of duty for me. He’s not just been ‘the physio’, but he’s also been a friend and I would like to thank him for everything from the bottom of my heart.

“Both Phil and the gaffer (Dean Keates) have supported my decision and have helped make my retirement official with ease.

“I hope the fans will continue to believe in the club. I know we are struggling at the moment, but the lads and Dean Keates are doing everything they can to turn this around."

Smith joined Wrexham following a successful trial ahead of the 2014-15 campaign and he went onto play in all of Wrexham's 61 league and cup games that season.

Despite being a regular in 2015-16, it was a surprise that Smith was released at the end of the season by Gary Mills and he signed for Gateshead.

But after just one season, Smith's contract at the Heed was cancelled for personal reasons and he re-joined Wrexham in July 2017.

Smith built up a superb partnership with Shaun Pearson at the heart of the Reds defence in 2017-18, but he picked up the career ending injury just eight games into the following season.