WAYNE Thomas kicked off his Worcester City return by apologising for a swift exit – but has no plans on repeating the sentiment.

The 38-year-old defender, a veteran of more than 500 professional appearances with the likes of Stoke City, Southampton and Burnley, signed for City on Saturday morning.

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His switch back to playing came seven days after leaving his post as manager of Rushall Olympic but a 44th-minute red card for raising his arm to an opponent in the 1-1 draw with South Normanton Athletic spoiled the pre-match fanfare.

Thomas insisted his only intention had been to prevent the cynical ploy of Athletic’s Tom Leighton while waiting to defend a corner but still said sorry to his colleagues.

“Up to that point we were cruising,” said Thomas. “They had obviously talked about something at the back post and one of their players ran straight at me to stop me getting to my man.

“I tried to get him out of the way to get to the target for the header. The referee pulled me and said I had gone for the guy blocking me.

“I could not just let the guy run into me, I had to put up my hands to protect myself and get him out of my way and the connection would have been around the top of his chest and right arm.

“Sometimes they get given, other times they don’t. The amount of times their right-back (Kane Jellyman) smashed Lee Hughes in the back of the head was unbelievable, though. He didn’t get spoken to once.

“If he (referee James Lunn) wanted to send me off for raising my arms then fair enough but he should have done the same to everyone else.

“It has gone now and we have to move on. I apologised to the lads and I extend that to everyone else but we still had chances to put it to bed with 10 men.”

Meanwhile, Thomas was quick to scotch suggestions his on-field comeback would be a stop gap.

“I have come out of management and am looking to fill the time,” said Thomas. “Snapper (joint-boss John Snape) gave me a ring to see whether I fancied getting my boots back on and I am up for it.

“Considering I had not played for a couple of months I felt alright and it was enjoyable, even if it was disappointing to get sent off.

“It is something I will do until the club want me to move on or something comes up but I see myself being here for the foreseeable future.

“If something comes up then that’s a bridge we’ll cross when we get to it but I have not signed here thinking about anything other than playing for Worcester City, helping to get the club promoted and doing well in the FA Vase.”