Sligo Rovers have secured the loan signing of English striker Matthew Stevens.
The loan deal will bring Stevens from Peterborough United to The Bit o’Red until June 30.
Stevens becomes the first Rovers signing of the January transfer window and the fourth overall for the 2017 season. He joins Shaun Patton (Derry City), Kyle Callan-McFadden (Orlando City) and Chris Kenny (Wexford Youths) as new additions.
Stevens, who turns 19 next month spent some of his early career in the youth teams of Reading.
He signed for Barnet in the summer of 2014 and quickly became their youngest ever player in making his debut at the age of 16 years and 204 days in September of that year. He followed that up by becoming their youngest ever goalscorer three months later as he was part of squad which won promotion as Conference champions that season.
He played ten times in League Two in the 2015/16 season scoring his first goal at AFC Wimbledon.
Peterborough United signed the striker to a three-year contract in July 2016 and has played twice so far this season for the League One club.
He has signed in time to play in yesterday’s 4-0 friendly win in Westport.
Dave Robertson reacted with delight to the signing as striker was one of his key priority areas for the January transfer window, he said:
“I am delighted that he has come here. He joins us with a fantastic pedigree. I have been tracking him for the last three or four years from his time at Reading and then with Barnet. I think he will be an exceptional signing and player for us. One big thing is that Matty will have the physical capacity to play in the League of Ireland and to have an impact here. He has these skills and enough ability to be a success. He will make the jobs of defenders in the league very difficult.”
Stevens has a strong goalscoring record from his underage career including scoring 57 goals in the 2014-15 season and the Rovers boss views him as a natural goalscorer:
“He is definitely a finisher, that is how I would describe him. But he also doesn’t mind doing the other side of the game. He is more than willing to defend and do the hard work that is needed of everybody for the team. Matty is able to play both roles and I have always liked that about him.”
Robertson believes that Stevens is close to making a first-team breakthrough at Peterborough and sees this an ideal opportunity for him to prove why he should earn a starting spot for them:
“First and foremost he will be coming here with the aim of doing well to get back in the first team with Peterborough when he goes back there on July 1st. I spoke to him and the manager there about that and it is very realistic that he can be in their team next season. He needs to continue with the type of performances he has been putting in with the under-23 team there and take that into his performances here. If he does then I am sure in July he will be knocking on their first team door.”
The moves creates the possibility of Stevens playing up-front with the Bit o’Red’s established for ward and 2016 top scorer in Raff Cretaro, it is a pairing which Robertson sees as beneficial to Stevens’ game:
“He will learn a lot coming here not only from Raff but some of the other players here too. With Raff it isn’t just that he has the knowledge of the league here, which is exceptional, but he also has fantastic knowledge of the game. He has had a long career and has great experience to pass on.”