McLaughlin joins Town

Conor McLaughlin for Preston North End
Conor McLaughlin for Preston North End
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FLEETWOOD Town added an eighth summer signing to their squad on the eve of their first public pre-season appearance.

Ahead of the friendly against a Blackburn Rovers XI at Accrington Stanley this lunchtime, Town confirmed the signing of right-back Conor McLaughlin from Preston North End.

The St Annes-based 20-year-old has followed Barry Nicholson in making the short journey from Deepdale to Highbury, having joined the North End youth system four years ago.

The Belfast-born defender won his first Northern Ireland cap against Italy last season and is delighted to link up with compatriot Damien Johnson, describing the midfield veteran as “a legend back home”.

Having made 24 appearances for Preston, McLaughlin ended last season on loan at Shrewsbury and was transfer listed in the summer with a year of his contract to run.

He said: “ It will be a fresh and exciting challenge for me. The club will be looking to push on from League Two and hopefully I can help them gain back-to-back promotions.”

Having faced Gateshead behind closed doors on Wednesday, when Fleetwood fielded 25 players, manager Micky Mellon expects to involve “17 or 18” in the noon kick-off at Accrington, where the host club face a different Blackburn XI at 3pm. “We’ll take a smaller squad for this one,” said Mellon. “Players who are a little further ahead in their training.”

Town striker Danny Rowe has again been loaned to Conference club Stockport County until the end of the year. A major success on loan with County last season, the 21-year-old could face his parent club in Tuesday’s friendly.