Stockport County defender Chris Smalley has signed a new contract with the Vanarama National League North club for 2016/17.
The 25-year-old centre-back joins striker John Marsden in committing to the Hatters for another season, having joined the club in December.
County boss James Gannon said: “Chris signing is another positive step in our team building as he’s been our most consistent defender since I arrived back at the club. I worked previously with Chris at Northwich Victoria and he was a very strong performer at right back. He’s impressed me, both with how he’s stepped up to this level but also adapting to playing on the left side of central defence.
“Chris has a great match mentality and displays very good control and discipline in defensive situations. Equally as important, at both Northwich and County Chris has taken key coaching tactics from training and applied them well in matches, which shows both his ability to learn and develop, and the trust he has in the defensive unit work and team tactics.”
Smalley, a former Myerscough student, joined the Hatters in December from crisis-hit Kendal Town with County in the middle of an injury crisis, but just 24 hours later he gave a text book performance on his debut, helping to secure a clean sheet in a 4-0 win at Corby Town.
The former Clitheroe and Northwich man went on to make seventeen league appearances last season and was one of the club’s most consistent performers.
Gannon added: “Chris played a significant part in the team when we went on our best run of form. Later in the season he was also a noticeable absentee during our run of three defeats over the Easter holidays, before returning to score and help the team back to winning ways at Worcester.
“Like John Marsden, Chris reminds us of the quality within the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League level and they’ve both given us the confidence to recruit from that level again to supplement the strong core group of National League North players we are looking to retain and recruit.
“Chris now joins Lewis Montrose, Glenn Rule, John Marsden and Ian Ormson who have all played a significant part in the successes of the second part of this season and we trust in them to continue improving as players and to provide the starting base of good National League North players we have going into next season.”