PORTLAND United manager Kyle Critchell paid tribute to winger and “fantastic human” Ben Morris following his decision to leave the Blues.

Former Dorchester Town wide man Morris exits after five years with the islanders, having amassed 154 appearances and 34 goals.

This season, he contributed seven goals and three assists in 38 matches for the Blues.

However, Morris has now decided to temporarily quit football to possibly go travelling ahead of firming up plans for his professional career.

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It means the winger, affectionately nicknamed ‘The Ginger Pele’, could return to the Blues in future.

Speaking to Echosport, Critchell said: “Not only is he one of the experienced (players) he’s still a young lad. More importantly, he’s a fantastic human being and role model.

“We’re really sad he’s deciding to leave but he’s doing it because he’s at an age where he wants to explore and potentially take up options of travelling before finding his route into work.

“If the opportunity comes up, we’ll look at bringing him back.

“At his age, he’s dedicated himself to football for so long. He’s now hopefully going travelling at some point and when he comes back he can evaluate his life with regards to what direction he wants to go.

“He’s not shut the door on football but he just wants to explore his options.”

Critchell also listed Morris as a key influence in Portland avoiding the drop last season, backed up by his eight goals in 33 matches.

“Last season when we first came into the job he was one of the reasons we stayed up with his consistency and goals,” Critchell said.

“He was a threat week in, week out. This season there’s been challenges that he’s faced and that’s probably why he’s made the decision now.

“I couldn’t ask for a better human and player. I really do hope he has all the success moving forwards in his life.”

Joining Morris in exiting the Blues is Weymouth Under-23 forward Connor Bent, who is assessing his options for 2024/25 and could yet return to Portland.

“Connor has gone back to Weymouth and he’s trying to decide on his next steps as well,” Critchell added.

“We’re waiting on whether he sees us as a potential place for next year.”