RETURNING York City striker Jake Wright turned down the chance to play a division higher with neighbours Harrogate Town because of their 3G pitch.

Wright, who was part of Harrogate’s promotion-winning National League North squad last season, feared the long-term impact continuing to train and play on an artificial surface might have on his body and career.

Reasoning that he didn’t want to compromise his footballing longevity, the 21-year-old forward instead agreed a two-year contract with the Minstermen, who he also hopes to lead into the National League next season.

“It was a big and difficult decision for me, as I had a few options,” Wright said of his decision to stay in sixth-tier football. “But, truthfully, the massive factor in my decision to come to York was to play on a grass pitch again.

“The artificial pitch at Harrogate suited my game a lot but, as a young lad, you don’t want to be playing and training on them week in, week out. It was taking a toll on my body and people say they can shorten your career.

“I have no problems with anybody at Harrogate though. The club did a lot for me and I have a lot of time for them.

“I spoke to (Harrogate manager) Simon Weaver about why I was going to York and he understood and we’re still friends.”

Wright, who was a prolific marksman at under-23 level for first club Sheffield United, scored six goals in 14 outings for Harrogate last term, despite only starting six matches.

He netted just once in seven outings for City during a loan spell from the Blades in 2016/17, but is confident he can help his new side spread the goals around the team next term.

That was a key factor in Harrogate’s successful season, while City were heavily dependent on veteran talisman Jon Parkin during the last campaign and Wright argued: “I’ve got a good record goals wise wherever I’ve been when I’ve played so I’m sure I can bring that to York.

“I feel I’ve matured a little bit since I was last here and grown up with a bit more experience. I don’t normally set targets beyond individual games but, if I get 20, I’ll be happy.”

Wright did forge a promising partnership with targetman Richard Brodie previously at Bootham Crescent and, while Parkin would represent a similarly-sized foil for him, he believes he can give the Minstermen flexibility in terms of attacking options, adding: “My willingness to run the channels probably suits playing alongside a target man, because I can gamble on all the flick-ons until one pays off, but I’m quite a versatile player and can play in a few different ways.

“I can hold the ball up and run the channels. I also feel I can play as one of two strikers or up there on my own.”

Having lined up alongside fellow new recruits Wes York and Jordan Burrow during a loan spell at Gateshead, Wright went on to extoll their qualities ahead of the 2018/19 campaign.

“They’re both coming from the league above and are very good players,” he declared. “Wes gives you pace down the line and he can beat a man, while Jordan is very similar to me.

“He can run the channels, hold the ball up and is good in front of goal. They’ll bring a lot to the team and it will be nice to meet up with them again.”

Until now, Wright has kicked off every season with the Blades wondering where his next loan opportunity would take him and admits the certainty of preparing for a full campaign at one club is refreshing.

“It feels really good to be looking forward to two years with the same club,” he confessed. “I’ve never really had that security.

“It’s good to get that, but it won’t change my approach to football. I will still be giving everything and I’m really excited.

“This is a great club and I enjoyed my time here before, although it didn’t last as long as I would have liked when I had to go back to Sheffield United. Hopefully, I’ll be around a lot longer this time and it’s an interesting time for the club going into a new stadium.

“It would be a great experience to go there having been promoted and, then, looking to go up again. The manager’s aspiration is to win promotion and the club need to go up next season - you can see that with the signings that have been made.

“We’re going for it and you always need a bit of luck to do it, but I’ve got a good feeling about our chances and, once you get back into the National League, you’re only one step away from the Football League again.”