LEO SMITH is delighted to be back in full-time football after signing for The New Saints.

The 22-year-old has been on the lookout for a return to the professional game since leaving Wrexham, for whom he played over 20 times after graduating from the youth team.

Smith was invited back to train with Wrexham last summer by then-Reds boss Bryan Hughes, but the determined youngster opted to sign for Caernarfon Town.

An impressive campaign for the Canaries, who were fighting for European football on two fronts when the 2019/20 campaign was abruptly ended by the coronavirus crisis, helped Smith earn a call-up to the Wales C for the cancelled showdown with England C.

And the Porthmadog-born ace’s form caught the eye of opposition manager’s, Saints Scott Ruscoe winning the battle to bring him to Park Hall.

“I’m pleased we have added Leo to our squad,” Ruscoe told Saints’ official website. “He’s an energetic player, who has lots of good attributes, and he’s very comfortable in possession.

“He will fit in well. He has a drive about him and has had an excellent season at Caernarfon.”

Smith, who will wear the number 21 shirt at Saints, has signed a two-year deal with Ruscoe’s men, who will be looking to wrestle the title back after Connah’s Quay Nomads ended their top-flight dominance.

“I am delighted to sign for TNS,” said Smith. “I feel it is the right place for me to be, to develop further as a player. It’s great to be back full-time again.

“It’s very clear how strong, consistent and dominant the club has been for many years. I feel the style of play that TNS is known for, will suit me perfectly, and hopefully I can contribute towards what the club is looking to achieve again.”

Smith also reserved special praise for Caernarfon, who have helped rebuild his love for the game.

“I’d like to thank everyone at Caernarfon Town for everything over the past season and a half,” Smith tweeted.

“The club has helped me fall in love with the game once again and helped me achieve my goal of being a full-time footballer again.

Another man pleased to see Smith back in full-time football is Wrexham’s head of youth Dan Nolan.

Smith was handed his Wrexham debut by then-caretaker boss Dean Keates in October 2016, the midfielder stepping off the bench to replace Tyler Harvey to help secure a 2-1 home success over Bromley.

A first goal in a memorable 3-1 away win over ex-Reds boss Gary Mills’ York City capped a fine breakthrough season for Smith, who found game time harder to come by the following season.

Loan spells with Llandudno and Caernarfon helped Smith develop away from The Racecourse, joining the latter permanently after turning down Hughes’ invite to return for pre-season training in an attempt to win a new deal with Wrexham.

Smith’s decision has been vindicated after he worked his way back into full-time football, and Nolan is delighted.

“He’s an exceptional young player,” said Nolan. “He’s a good lad, a nice lad with the right attitude. It’s tough when young players get released, it’s a real knock to the confidence and it can be hard for them. But Leo has a really toughness and hopefully he can go on and flourish in full-time football.”

Scott Quigley, an ex-Red loan man, who made the move from The New Saints into the Football League with Blackpool, before helping Barrow win promotion from the National League, was delighted for Smith.

Quigley tweeted: “Love it Leo the Lion, a top signing and a great lad! Will fit in perfectly.”