Wrexham Releases Long-Time Captain, Beloved Documentary Star in Roster Turnover

Luke Young and Rob Lainton were among eight players let go.
Jul 25, 2023; San Diego, California, USA; Wrexham players celebrate after a goal by forward Sam
Jul 25, 2023; San Diego, California, USA; Wrexham players celebrate after a goal by forward Sam / Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

Wrexham is bound for League One next season after securing promotion for the second straight year. The jump up will be significant for the League Two runners-up, so plenty of roster turnover was expected this offseason.

On Friday, the club announced it had released a significant group of players, including a few fan favorites.

Midfielder Luke Young has been Wrexham's captain since the 2021-22 season, the first in which Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney took over as co-chairmen of the club. He was a big part of the club's ascent from the National League back into the EFL and then again to League One. His role with the club diminished this season, as he only played in 25 league matches (12 starts) after appearing in 35 or more in each of his five seasons with the club.

Goalkeeper Rob Lainton was also among those released. The 34-year-old became a fan favorite in the documentary Welcome to Wrexham, as he battled repeated serious injuries. After becoming one of the National League's best keepers during the 2021-22 campaign, he suffered a wrist fracture and dislocation late in the season. He only made six appearances during the 2022-23 season as he recovered, then suffered a knee ligament injury late in the year. He was on the roster but didn't make an appearance during the 2023-24 campaign. Overall he made 132 total appearances for Wrexham in six seasons.

Other notable names released were defender, vice-captain and long-throw specialist Ben Tozer and defender Aaron Hayden. The 34-year-old Tozer made 29 appearances in League Two action this season and has 136 caps in three seasons with the club. Hayden was also featured in the documentary, joining the club in 2021. He appeared in 16 league matches this season.

Automatic contract extensions kicked in for James McClean, while forward Steven Fletcher, keeper Mark Howard and defender Aaron James and academy player Harry Dean have all been offered new contracts. The club also announced it would exercise contract options for Harry Ashfield, Callum Edwards, Liam Hall and James Rainbird.

Moving forward, the backbone of Wrexham's squad will continue to consist of McClean, strikers Paul Mullin and Ollie Palmer, and midfielders Elliott Lee and Andy Cannon.

The jump from League Two to League One is significant, which means a lot of turnover is expected for Wrexham this offseason. A number of key players could be brought in when the EFL's summer transfer window opens on June 10.

Ryan Phillips


Ryan Phillips is a Senior Writer on the Breaking & Trending News Team at Sports Illustrated. Ryan has worked in digital media since 2009, spending eight years at The Big Lead before joining the SI team in 2024. He also co-hosts The Assembly Call Podcast about Indiana Hoosiers basketball and previously worked at Bleacher Report. Ryan is a proud San Diego native and a graduate of Indiana University’s journalism school.