JJ HOOPER was so desperate to help Wrexham climb the National League table that he took to the field nowhere near fully fit.

Rumours began to circulate late last year that the striker has refused to play after scans and X-rays gave the 26-year-old the all-clear following ankle ligament damage.

Reds boss Dean Keates denied the rumours were true with Hooper saying at the time: “I would never refuse to play. Not for any club, especially a club like Wrexham. The fans have shown so much love since I have been here.

“I don’t know where the rumours have come from, but that is how it goes. I just wasn’t fit.”

And Hooper, who has now left The Racecourse after Keates opted against inviting the striker back for talks over a new deal, has talked about his determination to get out on the pitch and help his team-mates pick up as many points as possible.

“I did my groin and then after I’d completed my rehab my other groin went,” reflected Hooper. “I got back and Dagenham away I’ve landed awkwardly and it turns out I damaged ankle ligaments.

“It was a tough time and I wanted to get back out on the pitch.”

Asked how fit he was when he made his comeback after seven weeks on the sidelines, Hooper said: “Compared with the start of the season I was probably 50 or 60 per cent fit.

“It was not an ideal situation, but I wanted to help the team get the results we needed.

“All I wanted was to do well and score goals in order to get the team up the table, but not playing at 100 per cent because of injuries was tough, I’ve not had a season like it.”

When Hooper was signed by then Reds boss Bryan Hughes last summer supporters were optimistic that the striker could end the side’s goal scoring issues.

Hooper found the target six times in 19 National League outings, but the Greenwich-born frontman was not able to give his very best for the Reds.

“The fans were really good to me, even if the season was not ideal,” said Hooper. “Circumstances outside of my control meant I was injured and it was one of those seasons. I wish the club all the best for the future.”

Hooper was also hoping to speak with Keates about the prospect of extending his time in north Wales, but fully understands the decision made by the Reds boss.

“It would have been nice to talk about a new deal, but under Dean I was injured and I didn’t expect anything,” he conceded.

“A lot of clubs need to be careful going forward, hearing the likes of Wigan going into administration was a real eye-opener and clubs could go bust.

“It’s important that Wrexham is in a stable place and decisions on players had to be made.”

What does the future hold for Hooper, who counts the likes of Grimsby, Port Vale and Northampton amongst his former clubs?

Hooper, who enjoyed a prolific loan spell with Bromley during the 2018/19 season, added: “I’m talking to clubs, but I’m going to take my time and work out what’s the best for me.”