Portsmouth midfielder Gerard Storey says he turned down Irish League sides further up the table in favour of a loan move to Carrick Rangers.
The former Portadown ace made his Pompey first team debut last month, coming on as a second half substitute in the EFL Trophy victory over Cheltenham Town.
Now, in a bid to aid his development, the 18-year-old has returned to Northern Ireland in search of regular senior football until the end of the season.
In a bid to thank Rangers for the support they have given to the family of late former player Jerry Thompson, he has opted for the move to the Danske Bank Premiership's basement side.
"It is an absolute pleasure to come to Carrick Rangers on loan," he said.
"For me, it is all about getting loads of games on board and I will do everything I can to benefit this team and get them up the table.
"I had other offers from teams higher up in the league but when I spoke with Carrick my decision was made; that is the least I can do for the club after what they have done for Jerry and our family. I can't wait to get started and continue on from where my best friend left off."
Manager Niall Currie, who has led the club through a turbulent time following Thompson's death in 2019, is hoping the exciting signing can help fire his side forge their way up the table.
"We learned of Gerard’s availability late on Wednesday last week and given our close connection with Gerard through the family of Jerry Thompson we threw our hat in the ring and were competing with other top Premiership sides for his signature," he explained.
"Whenever you get the opportunity to sign a special talent like Gerard who is technically fantastic and a wonderful footballer you have to take it.
"I quickly contacted our Chairman who got the deal over the line for us and so I am absolutely delighted. We are all really looking forward to watching this young man play and as far as we are concerned it’s not very often a club like ours gets to sign this quality of player.
"The fact that Gerard was so eager to come to us ahead of two other fantastic Premiership sides says everything we need to know about him.”
Meanwhile, Ballymena United manager David Jeffrey has moved swiftly to bolster his defensive options after Ciaran Kelly's loan spell expired.
While Kelly has returned to Bohemians, the Sky Blues have drafted in centre-back Conor Keeley from Cabinteely FC in the League of Ireland First Division.
The 23-year-old joins on a two-and-a-half-year contract, subject to international clearance.
The big defender was at Shelbourne early in his career and donned the captain's armband at Cabinteely.
"He is a young fella who came to our attention through our established contacts in the League of Ireland, and has come well recommended to ourselves," said Jeffrey.
"We've watched him this season and are delighted that, although he had several other options down south, he sees us as the best next step in his career."