Peterhead manager Jim McInally says he’s disappointed to lose Gary MacKenzie after the defender decided to retire.
The 35-year-old centre-back has opted to call time on his playing career ahead of the Blue Toon resuming competitive action a week on Saturday.
The former Rangers, Dundee, MK Dons, Blackpool, Bradford, Notts County, Doncaster, St Mirren and Scotland squad player has struggled with injury and illness this term and feels it would be too big an ask to get back on the pitch for Peterhead.
Although disappointed to lose MacKenzie boss McInally can understand his reasons and said: “Gary has decided that the time is right to retire.
“I’m disappointed because any time we had Gary available he was really good for us.
“But I can understand where he’s coming from because he just feels that the latest lockdown was one step too far for him because it’s been a big effort to try to get himself on the park.
“He felt as though he was getting there before the latest shutdown.
“But now he feels he would be selling us short if he was to stay and keep taking money because he feels he would find it hard to get back on the pitch again.”
MacKenzie has made seven appearances for the Blue Toon this season and McInally has praised his attitude.
The SPFL’s longest serving manager added: “I can’t admire enough the stance he has taken because we have had some old pros who have taken us to the cleaners over the years.
“And Gary would have been entitled to do that and stay and sit out injured.
“For me he’s shown a lot of class with the decision he’s taken.
“Gary’s had injuries, he’s had illness, he had a concussion and even with that he wanted to play on with it, but we had to stop him, his attitude has been great during his time with us and we wish him well.”
MacKenzie’s retirement means McInally is now looking to sign another defender.
He did bring in former Elgin City stopper Andrew McDonald in January.
However, the shutdown of football below the Championship by the SFA a couple of days later means he has yet to play a game for Peterhead.
Other central defensive options in McInally’s squad include Jason Brown, while full-backs Kyle Bailey and Kieran Freeman have also played there this season.
But McInally is keen to try to further bolster that area for the remainder of the campaign.
He said: “We signed Andrew McDonald just before the shutdown which has turned out to be a good bit of business.
“We’ll still be on the lookout to see what else is available and if we can get somebody else in.
“But experienced centre-halves like Gary don’t grow on trees, but we’ll see what turns up.”