AARON HAYDEN has returned to Carlisle United following his release by Wrexham.

The centre-back left Brunton Park to join the Reds for an undisclosed fee in August 2021, putting pen to paper on a three-year deal at The Racecourse.

In his first season at Wrexham, Hayden scored seven goals in 39 appearances as Phil Parkinson's men reached the National League semi-final.

Solid at the back, Hayden was again a regular starter in 2022-23 and even more prolific when he netted 11 league goals by mid-January.

But a calf sustained in the 3-3 FA Cup fourth round draw with Sheffield United on January 29 ruled the 27-year-old out of action for the rest of the campaign, leaving him on 26 appearances, as Wrexham clinched the National League title.

Injuries continued to plague Hayden this season and he was restricted to 16 appearances in League Two, scoring one goal in the 1-0 derby win at Tranmere Rovers, although he was fit for the run-in when the Reds finished runners-up to secure back-to-back promotions for the first time in the club's history.

Last in action in the 1-1 draw at Forest Green Rovers on February 27, Hayden was one of nine players released by Parkinson earlier this month.

He made a total of 94 appearances in all competitions in three seasons at Wrexham, scoring 20 goals, and has put pen-to-paper on a two-year contract at Carlisle where he played 73 games before signing for the Reds.

Hayden began his career in Chelsea and Wolverhampton Wanderers' academies, and had a loan spell at Newport County as well as a number of non-league clubs before moving to Carlisle in 2019.

Blues manager Paul Simpson said: “We’re delighted that Aaron has agreed to return to us, he comes back to the club with more experience under his belt and two promotions. I think he’ll be a great addition to the group.

“As soon as we knew he was going to be available, he was a player we targeted early. We’re delighted to have been able to get this agreed ahead of other clubs."