Spalding United manager Pat Rayment has paid tribute to captain Lee Canoville after allowing the defender to leave by mutual consent.
A nasty knee injury that requires an operation has forced the ex-Arsenal right back to part company with the Tulips some six months before the expiration of his two-year contract.
Canoville, who won the UCL Knockout Cup in his 20-month stint with Spalding, was the first major signing made by Rayment in 2012.
Having made one appearance for the Gunners in 2000, the 32-year-old also lists Northampton Town, Torquay United and Notts County among his former clubs.
He joined the Tulips after leaving his role as player/manager with Boston United and is considered the catalyst for the club’s recent change in fortune by Rayment.
“The injury has finally caught up with Lee,” admitted the Spalding supremo. “He’s been struggling with his knee for some time and it has got to the stage where he needs an operation.
“That will of course mean rehab and a long period out, so we’ve decided to part ways by mutual consent.
“Lee has a lot going on with his soccer school and we both decided that him leaving was best for both parties.
“A lot of eyebrows were raised when he dropped down to play with us, but he really has been different class.
“He was an absolute pleasure to work with and inspired everyone around him.
“I have to say he is also the catalyst for the calibre of player we have at the club today.
“When he signed everyone else stood up and took notice of what we were trying to do.
“Yes, he was paid well – but believe me when I tell you he earned it. He travelled a long way for training every day and never missed a session.”
Rayment also told the Free Press that he was unlikely to make a move to replace Canoville, with Peter Bore expected to slot in at right back.
He’s also undecided on who will take on the captain’s armband, but confirmed that it was likely to be either Jamie Stevens or Lewis Webb.
Rayment added: “I’m not sure we need to bring anybody else in, Peter Bore is a ready-made replacement.
“He’s back from injury now and I’m sure he’ll show everyone just how good he is.
“That next captain will be either Stevens or Webb. Both have won things as captain with other teams and are inspirational to the others.
“I’ll let them sort it out between themselves.”