HARWICH and Parkeston defender Michael Murray is ready to shine in his latest spell with the club - an opportunity he never thought would come his way.

By his own admission, the centre-half believed his playing days were over after suffering a long-term knee injury at the end of the 2017-18 campaign.

It came during his time at Brantham Athletic and forced him to be withdrawn early in the Imps’ League Challenge Cup final victory against Thetford Town.

He spent last term frustratedly watching from the sidelines but then received a welcome, but unexpected, call from Shrimpers boss Kieron Shelley.

“It feels great to be fit and back playing,” said the much-respected defender.

“I genuinely thought my career was over, having not played last season.

“It felt like I’d effectively hung up my boots and then I got the call from Kieron.

“When he asked how I’d feel about playing this season, it was a very easy decision to make.

“I’m a local boy and have grown up around the club, so know how special this place is.

“It feels like such an exciting time to be here and I’m really hopeful and confident we can be successful next year.”

Although Harwich had a tough night at fancied Thurlow Nunn League premier division side Stowmarket Town on Tuesday, losing 8-1, they have impressed against other higher-placed clubs in their other friendlies, notably beating Stanway Rovers and Felixstowe and Walton 2-1.

It has fuelled hopes of an exciting year ahead for the Thurlow Nunn League first division south side, who begin their campaign with a home match against Brightlingsea Regent Reserves on August 3.

They then host Holland FC in another eagerly-awaited Tendring derby on August 6.

“It’s going to be an exciting season, with four going up, and two of the big things we have going for us are our team spirit and workrate,” added Murray.

“In terms of the spirit among the boys, it’s second to none.

“And when it comes to the boys’ work ethic, we’re prepared to run through walls for each other.

“You can see that already in our pre-season games.

“We’ll run and graft and that’s hopefully going to take us a long way next season.

“A lot of that comes from Kieron.

“He’s such a great bloke and man-manager.

“He knows how to get the best out of his players.”

Trailing at half-time, Kevin Coyle and Ross Purll were on target for the Shrimpers in Saturday’s enjoyable friendly against Felixstowe at the Royal Oak.

Jordan Heath got the consolation goal against Stowmarket.

Harwich’s next friendly is at home to Thurlow Nunn League premier division side Thetford Town on Saturday and kick-off is at the earlier-than-usual time of 2pm.

Shelley’s side are then away to Needham Market on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, the club have confirmed the signing of former Little Oakley man Mark Palmer and ex-Cornard United captain Dan Clark.