INFLUENTIAL centre-back Wayne Thomas has left Worcester City after receiving an alternative offer “he probably didn’t expect”.

Manager Carl Heeley said he was keen to keep the 37-year-old who was offered a new deal by the club on “an appearance basis”.

But the former Stoke City, Southampton and Burnley defender looks set for pastures new after deciding to end his time at Worcester.

Heeley said: “I had a conversation with Wayne and I was honest with him about what I could offer, but I know he has got another option he probably didn’t expect.”

Since joining the club from Tamworth in February 2014, Heeley said Thomas made a “massive contribution” as he added valuable experience at the back and helped City reach the second round of the FA Cup.

He also had a memorable stint in between the sticks during the 2014/15 campaign when he secured a clean-sheet in Worcester’s 2-0 win over Harrogate.

After a short spell coaching in America with New York Red Bulls, Thomas returned to City in October 2015 and went on to make 22 appearances.

However, a succession of injury set-backs in the second half of last season did not help City’s cause as they finished just two points above the drop zone in Vanarama National League North.

“In an ideal world I would love to have everybody, but the bottom line is we have to work within a budget and we need players who can be available for 40-plus games of the season,” Heeley said.

“I have to look after the interests of the club and I also have to look after my own interests because I can’t run the risk of being short (of players) and having nowhere to go.”

But Heeley paid tribute to Thomas, adding: "Wayne has had a huge influence on the squad and been an integral part of some great memories over the past couple of seasons.

“I consider Wayne to be a friend and on behalf of everyone at the club I would like to wish him well and sincerely thank him for his massive contribution."

Thomas’ centre-back partner Tom Sharpe has agreed to stay at City, while Heeley confirmed he was set to hold talks with defender Alex Gudger who has been away on holiday.

Worcester have also invited Romanian attacking midfielder Marius Ologu back to pre-season where further discussion on his future will take place.