Captain Danny Grainger will leave Carlisle United at the end of this season – and is set to retire from the professional game.

The 32-year-old Cumbrian says he has taken the “massive decision” to call time on his 17-year career.

Grainger says a series of niggling injuries this season have been a major factor in deciding to hang up his boots.

The defender, who has been with United for nearly five seasons, discussed his decision with United manager Steven Pressley and director of football David Holdsworth over the weekend and believes it is the right time to focus on new challenges.

“I’ve made the decision to leave Carlisle United and see what the future holds,” Grainger said, fighting back tears as he announced his decision ahead of the Blues’ final home game of the season against Crawley tomorrow.

“More than likely I’m going to finish playing, and see what happens moving forward.

“I’ve had five great years here and absolutely loved it, but I just think it’s time to take a step away.

“Unless Man United step in with a 300 grand a week offer it will more than likely be retirement, after seventeen years in full-time football, some great times and some down times.

“I’ve spoken to many people, team-mates past and present, family, friends. My wife Heather has been great. She’s asked me a hundred times if it’s the right decision, but we both think it is. I’ve spoken to my parents, and they both think it’s the right time as well. It’s been a hard decision but we feel like it is the right time to step away.”

Grainger, who is currently sidelined with a hamstring injury, confirmed the way the game was affecting his home life was a key reason he is retiring.

“I’ve been taking things home that I’ve never taken home – frustrations with injuries,” he said. “I’ve taken it out on the kids and Heather, and that was a big factor for me.

“The way I play is very on the edge; when you just lose that little bit of edginess it’s time that you call it a day.

“I’ve always said that I wanted to finish too soon rather than too late. I don’t want to fall out with football. I’ve got my academy [the Cumbria Football Academy], I want to go into coaching. I don’t want to sit there and resent the game.

“I want to still have the drive to be successful. I always said I would go from starting every week to finishing quite sharpish, because I don’t think I could quite happily sit and warm the bench every week – I would do everyone’s head in.

“It is emotional. It’s been hard. But I always said I wanted to finish here at Carlisle, and I have.”

Grainger has been a major part of United since joining in the summer of 2014 under former boss Graham Kavanagh. It saw the man from Eamont Bridge rejoin a club from which he had been released aged 13, and after a successful career in Scotland with Gretna, Dundee United, St Johnstone, Hearts, St Mirren and Dunfermline.

Grainger was appointed Blues captain by Keith Curle and, as well as making 197 appearances and scoring 34 goals, has won praise for his role in representing United in the community.

He said he is looking at “a couple” of possible options for his career after United, whilst also focusing on his academy.

In the immediate term, the skipper is not giving up hope on playing before the end of this season. Next weekend’s final game at Yeovil could be a long shot but if United make the play-offs he hopes to be involved.

On his injury he said: “We’ve had a couple of scans and there’s been a bit of fluid sitting on a nerve. It’s given me different feelings on what it actually is. I got through a full hour’s training session [the other day] and broke down with 20 seconds to go.

“That was frustrating. I’m still pushing to be fit as soon as possible. If that’s Yeovil, brilliant. If it’s not, - and it’s highly unlikely – it’ll be the play-offs if we can make it.”