Liam O’Neil says he is ready for the new challenge that awaits him at Chesterfield.
The versatile 22-year-old, who can play in midfield or defence, signed from Premier League side West Bromwich Albion for an undisclosed fee on Monday.
He trained with his new team-mates for the first time the following day and is in contention to make his Spireites debut this coming Saturday away at Millwall.
Chesterfield boss Dean Saunders revealed O’Neil had been on the club’s radar for two-and-a-half years and was keen to push a permanent move through for the player. And O’Neil said that was a big factor in his decision to leave the Baggies in search of regular first team football.
He said: “Dean and his team have had their eyes on me for a while and pushed to get the deal done. It was something that appealed to me, it’s great club and I’m ready for this new challenge.
“They made me feel valued, I want to play games and help the team achieve its aims of promotion, and that’s another reason why I came here to Chesterfield, to help them do that.”
“I’ve been impressed by the facilities and what they’ve got here.
“I want to play as many games as possible, we’ve set targets as a team to get promotion either by the play-offs or automatically and we’re all working together to achieve it.”
O’Neil came through the youth ranks at The Hawthorns and said it was a “dream come true” to play for the first team in the Premier League towards the end of the 2013/14 campaign.
Pepe Mel gave him his chance and O’Neil also featured against Hull City and Bournemouth in the Capital One Cup under Alan Irvine last season, before a loan move to Scunthorpe United.
He made 22 appearances for the Iron, including one against Chesterfield at Glanford Park, and said the move was a worthwhile experience.
“I had a good season at Scunthorpe and played a lot of games. It really helped me get in to that frame of mind of Saturday-Tuesday games and helped me prepare the right way,” he said.
“It was a great experience last season and taught me to prepare well otherwise you’ll get caught out. I’m learning more and more and will continue to under the manager here.”
Saunders added: “Liam is a young player who has played in West Brom’s first team. He’s exactly what we want - a midfield player who can also play at the back, if required.
“He’s one for the future for us, having been tracked by the club for two-and-a-half years. We were going to loan him but we’ve managed to sign him permanently, which is great for the long-term future of the club.”