LOUIS Laing is determined to become a first-teamer at Nottingham Forest.
The freed Sunderland defender has penned a one-year deal at the Championship club, with an option for a further 12 months.
The 21-year-old had come under consideration from a host of clubs since the Black Cats opted not to renew his contract at the end of last season.
Laing, whose reputation in the game remains high after his promise as a teenager, spent a fortnight on trial with Blackburn Rovers in the final throes of the campaign and then a week training with Manchester United’s Under-21s.
Blackburn were continuing to keep tabs on Laing after impressing during his stint at Ewood Park, but they were not alone, with the centre-half attracting a string of admirers.
Laing told Forest’s website: “I want to be in the team. I’ve set myself that goal. I want to be playing regularly and to be seen as a big character within the squad.
“My preferred position is right-sided centre back but I’m just as comfortable in a holding midfield role. I’m a fit player who can get up and down quite easily. I’ve got a pass in my locker, so I’ll play wherever I’m asked to. Hopefully that will work in my favour.
“I just want to work hard in pre-season and see where it goes from there.”
Laing is thrilled to be at the City Ground, adding: “I’m absolutely delighted. Forest are such a big club and I think it’s definitely the right move for me.
“Hopefully I’ll get some opportunities and help Forest get to where they want to be.
“I haven’t got a bad word to say about Sunderland.
“But for me changes of manager here and there maybe didn’t work in my favour and to come to a club like this, with its stature and aspirations, I couldn’t think of anything better for my career.”
New Forest boss Stuart Pearce is familiar with Laing from his performances at England youth level.
While Pearce was in charge of England U21s, Laing was representing his country at every age group up to the U19s.
And Pearce will hope he can realise the Newcastle-born defender’s potential after he showed huge potential in his late teenage years.
Laing shone when he went away with Sunderland’s first-team squad for pre-season during the summer of 2011.
But he was hampered by a succession of injuries, while the stream of managerial changes at the Stadium of Light restricted him to one first-team appearance from the bench at the end of the 2010-11 campaign.