Drew Talbot has told Jack Lester he felt responsible for the situation that saw the Town boss leave the club earlier this week.
The full-back was previously a team-mate of Lester, who brought Talbot back to the club in the January transfer window to try and help stave off relegation.
It wasn’t to be, however, both men showing their utter dejection at the full-time whistle on Saturday, after a 4-1 defeat to Forest Green Rovers confirmed the drop.
Lester left the club by mutual consent, prompting Talbot to contact his friend.
“I texted him, I didn’t think it was appropriate to ring,” he said.
“I apologised really and just said I felt responsible for what had gone on, in the sense that I’d been brought in to help and we’re still in the same situation.
“It was a nice message he sent back.
“I’ve got massive amounts of respect for Jack, from previously playing with him.”
The manager’s departure was a surprise to Talbot and a bitter blow.
“I didn’t think it would happen until the end of the season, if anything was going to happen.
“I didn’t actually think he would go, to be honest.
“We got a text Sunday night saying we weren’t in for a couple of days and I think that was the writing on the wall that something was going to happen.
“It’s tough to take. I knew him before he was my manager and I class him as a friend, it’s tough to take.
“From a personal point of view, we’ve let him down a little bit.
“Managers are the ones to get the bullet and that’s possibly unfair.”
Relegation also hit the 31-year-old hard and he admits the side’s slump that led to their inevitable exit from the Football League has taken a toll.
“I can’t speak for some of the lads, it’s absolutely devastating for me,” he said.
“This club is quite close to my heart.
“To get relegated, which happened a fair few years back from League One, you’re still in the league - but to go out of the league, I think I read it’s 97 years.
“It’s quite a sad state of affairs.
“I’ve not slept well for weeks.
“After the Forest Green game I was so tired, I got home and sat downstairs all day.
“I didn’t actually sleep that night.”
Talbot doesn’t profess to be a spokesman for the dressing room but he hopes others among the squad feel just as strongly about what has happened.
“I can’t speak for the lads, I hope it does bother them because it should bother them, it’s on their CV for the rest of their careers now,” he said.
“It hurts bad. It’s not nice but you have to regroup and continue.”