Loan signing will earn his pay

Blyth Spartans manager Alun Armstrong is planning to play David Atkinson at every opportunity in the EVO-STIK Northern Premier League after signing the defender on a month's loan from Carlisle United on Thursday.

Armstrong has told the EVO-STIK NPL Premier Division club's fans that he is delighted to be reunited with Atkinson at Croft Park after working with the 23-year-old during his time at Middlesbrough's academy.

Able to play across the back four and available for selection until December 31, the arrival of the England youth international, pictured, couldn't be better timed with Spartans facing key fixtures against fellow promotion contenders over the next four weeks, starting with Saturday's game against Buxton.

The Spartans boss said: “I’ve known David since he was at Middlesbrough and everyone there knew how good a player he was. He’s such a talented footballer. He was unfortunate with injuries – otherwise – I’m sure he would have went on to play for Middlesbrough’s first team, without a shadow of a doubt.

"He’s played at England level and I’ve been trying to get him in for a few weeks now. He did get injured a few weeks back and it’s taken a while for him to get back fit, but I’m just chuffed to bits that we’ve been able to get someone of his quality in."

Atkinson secured a move to Brunton Park in March 2015 after enjoying loan spells at Carlisle and Hartlepool United. His 41-year-old manager is determined he'll enjoy his latest loan by squeezing in as much playing time as possible.

He added: “It’s going to be tough for places but I’ve said before that I’m not going to bring someone in on loan unless I’m going to play them. As long as he’s fit and he’s available, David will be playing. I think he’ll bring a lot of the defensive qualities that we need at this moment in time and for the next month.”

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