FORMER Hereford United defender Gareth Davies would love to return to the club which launched his career, writes Ian Morgan.

The popular 28-year-old central defender has retired from professional football due to a persistent knee injury, but hopes to continue playing outside the Football League.

"At the moment I am looking at all the options, but I may be able to train once a week and play at the weekends," he said.

"I am looking to get into coaching, perhaps to become a manager of a youth team, but I would love to play for Hereford United again - even if it was a one-off match.

"I support Hereford United and my time with them was priceless. It would be a dream come true if I were to play at Edgar Street again, " said Davies.

Davies joined the Bulls' staff on a YTS scheme at 15 and made 95 league appearances for United in the bottom section of the Football League.

His progress was tracked by several top clubs and he made rapid progress to gain Welsh under-21 honours.

In June 1995 Davies, then 21, was signed by Crystal Palace for £120,000 and he later moved to Reading before joining Swindon Town in March 1999, where he underwent three operations and made 23 starts.

"After my third knee operation I said to myself that if something happened and my knee swelled up again, I would have to give up playing professionally," said Davies. "And, when it did, I looked at my eight-month-old son Rhys and I knew that I didn't want to be in a wheelchair and unable to play with him when he grows up."

Davies is a cousin of former Everton star Kevin Sheedy, who also played for Hereford.

He added: "At the moment, I am looking at the options, but I don't want people to feel sorry for me. I have had 10 years as a professional footballer and I feel very privileged to have had that."