Shrewsbury Town boss Paul Hurst is pleased to have added Stefan Payne to his squad on a two-year deal for an undisclosed fee.
Payne has been a prime target of Hurst’s since his loan-spell finished at the end of last season, but he was involved with Barnsley during the first couple of weeks of the season.
“We knew right from the end of last season that Stefan liked the club”, admitted Hurst.
“He liked how we worked here, but we knew he would have to go back and see if he was going to be part of Barnsley’s plans and in fairness he has been.
“He scored in pre-season and I think he’s been involved in all their games, but I got the call from the manager over there who said that he was willing to let him go, and as soon as that was the case, we wanted to act quickly.
“We knew we’d got a decent chance of getting, although there was a lot of interest in him, but the fact that he liked the club and enjoyed playing here was a big pull.”
With Town having signed Carlton Morris and Niall Ennis on loan this summer, Hurst was pleased to get a permanent addition in the building.
“Ultimately it’s a permanent centre-forward”, said Paul.
“We’ve spoken before about it always being loans, but this is one that we’ve got for a couple of years now and he’s our player. There was talk of a loan and I’m not saying I would have turned that down, but I would have preferred permanent and in fairness Stef wanted permanent, so that helped.
“You have to have an eye to the future and already now, by the start of next season, there should be a core of good players here. A lot can happen between now and then of course, but I think Stef is a great addition for us and I think there’s more to come from him.
“He was obviously unfortunate to get injured in his first game here and took time to get up to speed, but he certainly played his part in helping us stay up last year and hopefully he can carry on from there.”
Paul admits there will be competition for places, but believes the squad will be important with a long season ahead.
“It’s going to be difficult to keep everyone happy”, Hurst said.
“I will keep reiterating to everyone that it is a squad game. Some will get more opportunities than others, but they’ve got to take the opportunity to impress when they get minutes on the pitch.
“On Tuesday, I felt that I had to remind one or two that the training ground is their best opportunity to impress and ultimately it’s down to them.
“I think an awful lot of Stef, but he’s got to perform. He won’t go in the team because I liked him before. It’s what he does now, so from that point of view it should bode well for competition.”