Danny Grainger has paid a glowing tribute to Luke Joyce as his former team-mate brings down the curtain on his career this weekend.

Former Carlisle United midfielder Joyce will retire after Saturday's game for Radcliffe against Grainger’s Workington Reds.

The 36-year-old is calling time on his playing days as he prepares to start a new full-time scouting role for Premier League club Brentford.

Joyce played alongside Grainger at Carlisle for three years, from 2015 to 2018, and the two remaine close friends.

And despite finding themselves in opposition in Joyce's last game, Reds boss Grainger says he cannot speak highly enough of his old team-mate.

“You make a lot of acquaintances in football, but you end up in so many dressing rooms that you can’t possibly stay friends with all of them,” Grainger said.

“But Joycey is one I have stayed good friends with and that’s the type of person he is – you want to be around him.

“He’s a great person off the pitch, he cares about people’s families. He’s just a top man, a top person.

News and Star: Joyce has more than 600 first-team appearances to his name, but will now move into a full-time scouting role with BrentfordJoyce has more than 600 first-team appearances to his name, but will now move into a full-time scouting role with Brentford (Image: Richard Parkes)

“On the football side, his career speaks for itself. He’s had hundreds of appearances in the Football League and he’s a player every team-mate wants in his team.

“He’s not going to score you 10-15 goals or get 20 assists in a season but team-mates will say he’s one of the most important players you can play with.

“I know Radcliffe will miss him. He’s shown what you need to be to be a professional footballer – you have to have the work rate, the desire, the commitment, and he had that every day.

“Every day to him was massive whether he was training or playing a match – he didn’t change his attitude.

“There are no words that can describe how much of a top person, player and professional he really is.”

Joyce, who has played more than 600 first-team games, said the time was right to call it a day.

The midfielder, who had two spells with Carlisle, has his own football academy and is now set for his new post-playing role with Brentford.

He will come up against other ex-Blues colleagues this weekend, such as Reds’ Jamie Devitt - who, along with Conor Tinnion, was today appointed assistant manager by Grainger - while Radcliffe’s side also includes Grainger’s former United team-mate Nicky Adams.

News and Star: Former Carlisle star Nicky Adams will also face Workington todayFormer Carlisle star Nicky Adams will also face Workington today (Image: Richard Parkes)

Grainger says the away game against the Northern Premier League Premier Division leaders – who are managed by the former Salford City duo Anthony Jonson and Bernard Morley – will be a great test for his 15th-placed side.

“Radcliffe are a fantastic football club. I’ve always admired them from afar, and I’ve got a lot of connections there now with the likes of Joycey and Nicky Adams,” said Grainger.

“It’s going to be a real tough test for us, but we’re scoring at will at the moment, and fingers crossed we can get another positive performance and we’ll see where it takes us.

“For me, anybody finishing above Radcliffe will win the league – they’ve really impressed me with their recruitment, they’ve got two good managers there, who know what they need to do to get results, and a lot of experienced players.

“It will probably be the toughest test we’ll come up against but one the boys will relish and look forward to.”