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Northern Ireland U21 goalkeeper joins St Johnstone on loan

Northern Ireland U21s goalkeeper Conor Mitchell
Northern Ireland U21s goalkeeper Conor Mitchell

By Josh Bunting

Northern Ireland Under 21 goalkeeper Conor Mitchell has signed for St Johnstone from Burnley on a season-long loan deal.

The young stopper spent some of last season on loan at Chester City but travelled with Burnley's first-team squad on their pre-season training camp to Ireland.

With four senior keepers on the books at Turf Moor, the 22-year-old will get more of an immediate opportunity to be involved at first-team level out on loan.

Portrush-man Mitchell will be playing under former Northern Ireland goalkeeper Tommy Wright and says he jumped at the chance to join the Scottish Premiership side.

“My aim for this season was always to get out on-loan and to break free from the Academy system," he told the club website. "Scotland is a great place for me to come because it provides a great platform for me if I do well and it’s great exposure.

“I’m looking forward to getting going and showing people what I can do. I’m excited about the season ahead with St. Johnstone.

"As a big football fan and a Northern Irish lad, I've followed the career of the manager and the fact he was a goalkeeper as well can only be a good thing for me."

Mitchell has yet to play for Northern Ireland's senior squad but boss Michael O'Neill said earlier this year that the U21s' three keepers; Mitchell, Conor Hazard and Bailey Peacock-Farrell, would be rotated between the U21 and senior squads going forward.

Having had the chance to train with his new St Johnstone team-mates before officially signing, Conor has been impressed by the quality at the club.

"Training was of a very high standard," he commented, "but I knew what to expect already because I had spoken with Kyle McClean before I came up here.

"It's a really tight knit bunch and the lads have been brilliant with me since I arrived.

"I think it's always good to have healthy competition and hopefully I can push Zander and Hursty and they can push me too. I'm looking forward to getting going and showing what I can do and I'm really excited about the season ahead at St. Johnstone."

Tommy Wright’s side have started their season with three games in the group stages of the Scottish League Cup and are yet to concede a goal. The Perth-based club finished eighth in the Scottish top flight last season.

Wright was searching for a goalkeeper due to the departure of Alan Mannus, who signed for League of Ireland side Shamrock Rovers earlier this month. Mitchell will challenge 26-year-old Scot Zander Clark for the starting spot.

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