Cotterill hails pace ace de Laet

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Steve Cotterill welcomed the injection of pace into his squad following the arrival of Ritchie de Laet.

The Blues yesterday completed the loan arrival of the Manchester United defender until the end of the season.

De Laet went straight into the squad for today's meeting with Nottingham Forest at the City Ground.

Cotterill was delighted to boost his threadbare options with the 22-year-old's quality.

De Laet operates predominantly as a left-back but can play anywhere in defence and also left midfield.

Cotterill believes the speedy Belgian talent will prove to be a big asset over the rest of the campaign.

The Blues manager said: 'We're very pleased to have got him over the line and we feel he will be a very, very good addition to our squad.

'We're also very grateful to Manchester United that they have let the boy come down to us, too, and that is appreciated.

'He will give us pace, which is what we need.

'He is a good athlete and adding that pace to the side is important.

'Ritchie has lots of energy to get up and down. There's no doubt he's quick.

'That's a big thing to have in the game nowadays.

'He's versatile and brings good quality to the side as well.

'We've worked hard to bring him in and it was important that we kept things as quiet as we possibly could.

'He's sound defensively. He won't get done easily and will help us out back there.

'He's played at this level before and knows the Championship.

'We're very happy to have him here.'

De Laet has picked up Championship experience at Sheffield United and Preston this season.

His stay at Deepdale was cut short, however, when Sir Alex Ferguson recalled him after his son Darren lost his job with Preston last month.

Despite Football League rules stating a player cannot play for three clubs in the same season, de Laet's stint at Deepdale was an emergency loan which does not count towards that ruling.

It enabled Pompey to nab the former Stoke player, who spent the previous two days training at the club's Eastleigh training base.

Cotterill believes de Laet will quickly settle in with his new team-mates and hit the ground running.

He said: 'Ritchie's fitted in well with the lads already.

'He's trained the past couple of days with the team. He's a really, really nice lad and has slotted in well. There's no danger there.

'He comes in to a good dressing room anyway, so there's no problem. The lads will help him settle in.'

A Belgium international with two caps, de Laet started his career at Royal Antwerp.

After a stint at the Britannia Stadium, he joined Manchester United in 2009 and has since made three first-team appearances for the Red Devils.