IT'S a double celebration today for Guiseley's Will Thornton. The centre half is not only marking his 23rd birthday, but commemorating the fact that he has signed a new contract to remain at the club.

After coming through the Nethermoor youth ranks, winning the West Riding County FA Minor Cup for Wharfedale FA's Under-17 team, and starring in the academy, Thornton made his first team bow from the bench against Boreham Wood in the National League.

It was the 2018-19 campaign where he really found his feet, playing 34 times in total and collecting the club's inaugural Young Player-of-the-Season award.

However, a broken jaw suffered last pre-season stunted his progress meaning he had to go on loan to Northern Premier League Premier Division side Gainsborough Trinity, just days after Curtis Woodhouse took over as manager.

The defender believes he needed to drop down a division to get regular football and now he is aiming to put what he learned into practice for the Lions.

Thornton said: “Russ O’Neill said I would be better off going out on loan and playing regularly rather than just sitting on the bench at Guiseley, as by the time I was fit to play again Scott Garner and Hamza Bencherif had established a good partnership at the back.

“I've only got good things to say about my time there (Gainsborough). I enjoyed every minute of it.

"Everything about the club, the chairman, the manager, the people, the staff; they were brilliant to me and it made me enjoy my football again. When you are playing every week you enjoy it more and it was a really good experience."

"I gained so much more from starting every game and now is the time for me to prove that I can play for Guiseley. You have got to earn your shirt in pre-season and prove to the management that there is no other choice but you.

“Physically, as well as mentally, it is quite tough to come back but it helped playing in every game at Gainsborough. Now I am back home at Guiseley where I have always had a good relationship with the supporters. They have always been brilliant with me all the way through from the academy and I am thankful for that. Hopefully I can have a better start to the season this time around.”