Sligo Rovers manager Ian Baraclough hailed a “productive week” for the club after taking his transfer window signings to three in as many days with the capture of Jeff Henderson and Seamus Conneely.
Henderson and Conneely join Ryan Connolly in committing to the club on contracts until the end of 2013, joing from Newcastle United, Sheffield United and Derby County respectively.
The Rovers boss said: “It has been a productive week and people may be surprised that we have brought players in so early.
“There has been a lot of work done and obviously it starts before the window opens. It is not just me but the club that has made it happen and it is very pleasing because the sooner we bring players in, the easier it is for them to adapt to us.”
Henderson joins after spending his entire career at Newcastle United, apart from a loan spell at Gateshead, and has already featured for Rovers in a friendly game with Westport.
Baraclough said: “When I was working with Watford last year I watched a lot of games and Jeff was one player I saw. When I found out he was available we invited him over to see the club and get a feel of things here.
“There were clubs in League 1 in England interested but there was a lot of work done by Sligo Rovers to get him here.
"Obviously I speak to him and make it as personal as I can but the board and people involved in the club do a brilliant job in making him feel welcome. We can showcase the excellent facilities we have here and I think he sees it as a move that will allow him to develop and improve.
“We saw him in Westport and even though he hadn’t played in a few weeks he gave a good account of himself. This week’s game might be too soon for the new signings and they will take a little while but we want them to be involved as soon as possible.
"It is a big move for Jeff because the other two players have their families here and he is moving after a long time with Newcastle. He sees we can offer him something different and I’m very pleased to bring him in.”
Conneely, meanwhile, returns to Ireland after 18 months with Sheffield United. The former Republic of Ireland under-21 international will be a familiar face to many Rovers fans after establishing himself with Galway United in the early stages of his career.
Baraclough commented: “To be honest Seamus was keen to stay in England and all credit to the club they have made it happen. He has been in England for a year and a half and again I saw him play in reserve matches back in England. I spoke to people who worked with him and they all had good things to say about his approach.
"Seamus is another one who sees this move as a means of improving and possibly returning to a high level in England and for him to do that he will have to be successful with us. He sees the club as going places and I was very impressed by how he handled himself in our discussion.
"He can play in two or three positions. I’ve seen him play in midfield, right-back and centre-half and he’s got a good footballing brain. He is a talker even though he is young and his versatility is a positive for a small squad like ours.”
Conneely, Henderson and fellow new signing Ryan Connolly now face the challenge of breaking into Rovers side and with the club four points clear at the top of the table and many players performing well, Baraclough is looking forward to increased competition in the squad.
“It is a challenge to get into the team. It helps we are doing well because we do not have to throw them in and we’re keen to blend the new players into the squad. It gives everyone at the club a boost and it excites the supporters.
"Saturday’s game might be too soon, I’m not too sure and we’ll look at that later in the week but I’m delighted to have brought in three players already. They certainly haven’t come here to sit in the stands or on the bench so they’ll be working hard from here.”
The trio have signed contracts until the end of the 2013 season, and Baraclough wants to continue what has been a bright start to the year. “The contracts being until the end of next season is important. We're signing players that want to be part of what we’re trying to achieve. I've also committed until the end of next season and we’re building and we do not want to lose our assets. If we’re developing players then the club should be rewarded and we shouldn’t lose them for nothing.”