Walsall today swooped to sign Manchester United starlet Sam Johnstone on loan until the end of the season.
The 19-year-old becomes the Saddlers' fifth goalkeeper of the campaign and replaces the recalled Aaron McCarey after he returned to Wolves following Carl Ikeme’s freak hand injury.
Johnstone, an England Under-19 international, is in line for his debut in Saturday’s trip to Hartlepool with the Saddlers just three points off the League One play-offs.
And boss Dean Smith reckons Johnstone is ready to be thrown into Walsall’s promotion push.
Smith said: “It was unfortunate Aaron was recalled, but he will be replaced by a very able lad in Sam.
“I know Manchester United have high aspirations for him and he has already had a couple of previous loan spells at this level so he knows what it’s all about.
“I know a lot about the lad and watched him in action recently. I’ve had some very positive reports on him and am delighted to be able to bring him on board until the end of the season.”
Johnstone, who turns 20 on Monday, made 12 appearances on loan at Scunthorpe last season and also spent time at Oldham in 2011 without making an appearance.
He has progressed through the ranks at Old Trafford and has also played for the England under 16s and under 17s – winning the under 17s European Championships in 2010.
The Saddlers moved after being told on Saturday McCarey would be recalled following Ikeme’s injury.
He broke his hand punching a tactics board at half time after his gaffe gifted Bristol City the lead in Wolves’ 2-1 win on Saturday.
The Saddlers have used David Grof and loaned Karl Darlow, Ian McLoughlin and McCarey this season.
Record appearance holder Jimmy Walker was released in February after struggling to regain fitness after injury.
Rookies Liam Roberts and Richard Jones – who are yet to make a first-team appearance – were the only recognised keepers left before Johnstone’s arrival.
Smith added: “We found out on Saturday evening it was likely Aaron would be recalled. He did a tremendous job for us. He settled quickly back into the side and has played his part in the run that we are on.
“It’s one of those things that happens in football and we thank him for his efforts here.”