ROB Hopley has agreed a new one-year deal at Witton Albion, which will be a relief to manager Carl Macauley.

The front man, who scored 18 goals last season to help the club secure promotion to the Northern Premier League’s top-flight, has changed his mind after originally deciding to retire.

He told the Guardian that a constant battle with niggling injuries over the past 18 months had made him reluctant to continue for another season.

“You should have seen me trying to get up for work after a midweek game,” he said.

“It wasn’t pretty, I can tell you!

“We played at least twice a week from January onwards, and at times – after long trips to an away game – I didn’t get into bed until 2am.

“When you’re back up again to go to work four hours later, that takes its toll and becomes a struggle.

“I barely trained after Christmas because my body needed time to recover for the next game.”

Now 32, the Winsford-based striker was also attracted by the idea of bowing out on a high after Witton’s promotion play-offs final victory against Spalding United in April.

His goal to sink AFC Rushden & Diamonds in the semi-finals had been his 47th in just 72 starts since moving closer to home from Colwyn Bay.

“Once the lads found out they soon talked me around,” said Hopley.

“I think a rest has helped too.

“My wife hasn’t started complaining yet that I’m not at home on a Saturday, so I should probably make the most of it while I can!”

Hopley is optimistic that a troublesome foot injury, which he believes may have caused related groin and back issues, has been eased by using a bespoke inner-sole in his boot.

A broken toe also caused him to miss games in March.

“I’ve had problems for a while, but the moulded soles have helped,” he said.

“I could get through games with painkillers, but the recovery wasn’t much fun.

“The gaffer understood; he never put pressure on me to play – he trusted that I know my body and how much it can take.

“It was easier after Steve Tames and then Will Jones signed, because we could swap places and take a breather.”

Macauley will have to juggle his resources carefully again next season, when Witton play in a 24-strong Premier Division.

However he is happy to be doing so with Hopley as one of his striking options.

“I was shocked when Rob told me he was finishing!” said the manager.

“His health comes first, and that’s something we’ll be wary of now we know he’s staying.

“He’s been brilliant for me, probably the best signing I’ve ever made.”