Hartlepool United have bolstered their defensive options with the signing of James Butler on loan from Championship outfit Stoke City.
The 18-year-old centre-back has arrived on a short term loan deal until the middle of January, with Matthew Bates explaining it gives him the chance to take a closer look at the promising defender with a "view to something more long-term."
Bates has confirmed that the hard work continues behind the scenes to bolster the squad further, with goal-shy Pools also in desperate need of signing a striker.
Butler played against Pools in the recent FA Cup Fourth Round Qualifying Round win over Kidsgrove Athletic, Bates impressed with the defender's performance that day during a loan spell from Stoke.
He won't be able to play against Gillingham in the first round proper of the competition on Saturday as he is cup tied.
Bates said: "I liked the look of James from the moment I saw him play in their FA Cup replay against Workington.
"He has done extremely well for Kidsgrove, stood out against Workington and I also thought he had a very good game when they played up here against us.
"He’s obviously still very young but I was really impressed with the way he acquitted himself and with the reports I have had about him so this deal allows us to have a closer look at him with a view to something more long-term.
"The work is continuing behind the scenes and we’re chasing up a number of targets in various positions so I can assure fans we’re doing everything we can to strengthen the squad."
Butler, who has been handed squad number four, tweeted: "Buzzing to have joined @Official_HUFC on loan, can’t wait to get started.
"Also big thanks to everyone at @officialkafc for everything they did for me while I was there on loan, all the best for the rest of the season"
Meanwhile, a date has been confirmed for Pools’ Durham County Challenge Cup second round tie against Ryton & Crawcrook Albion.
Pools will host the Northern League Division Two outfit at The Super 6 Stadium on Wednesday, December 5th (KO 7.30pm).
Pools made it through after a 2-1 victory at Sunderland Westend. Ryton beat Easington Colliery.
Admission prices are £5 for adults and £3 for concessions.