Mansfield Town manager David Flitcroft said Irish U21 international defender Ryan Sweeney had ‘found a home’ with the club after agreeing a free transfer from Stoke City.
He also vowed to improve the youngster, who has impressed so much already.
With six loan players on the books and only able to field five, Stags moved to take Sweeney permanently and were very happy to last night secure a free transfer with a sell-on clause.
“I was delighted to secure him on a permanent,” said Flitcroft.
“Greg (Abbott, football operations manager) has worked really hard getting it over the line and the chairman has supported us in that.
“Stoke have been brilliant. Ryan’s agent has been good as well.
“There is a sell-on fee clause, but to pull off a free transfer is absolute credit to Stoke and the way they’ve handled it.
“I think they felt it was the right football club for him to come to and the right management staff to work with.
“He’s found a home here, a million per cent. The lads love him in the dressing room.”
Flitcroft said of Sweeney’s attributes: “He is a leader. He is 6ft 5ins, left-footed and really balances that side off. I think he’s had a really good season - he’s been excellent.
“I wanted to reduce the age of the squad from when I took over – that was something we outlined from day one.
“Probably after the first month I knew I wanted to work with him and improve him.
“We’ve established some assets in our team and I see Ryan as an asset to the football club, as is Matty Preston.
“It shows progress. He’s a young, good asset for the football club.
“It’s up to me now to keep developing him and making him better. But he is a good student and loves training.” Mansfield this week also brought in right wing back Gethin Jones on loan from Fleetwood as cover for broken leg victim Hayden White.
“With the Hayden White injury, it does floor you,” said Flitcroft.
“So we had to find someone who’s been taught as a full-back.
“Gethin is an adventurous defender who plays with ambition and aggression. He nearly scored early doors when he’d just come on last night but tangled accidentally with the goalkeeper.
“He’s someone that we’ve looked at for quite a while.
“He suits what we’re trying to do here, either as a wing-back or a full-back. We can change the shape when we want to with him.”