Bristol Rovers boss John Ward secures deal for Port Vale defender Clayton McDonald
Bristol Rovers boss John Ward has made his fifth signing of the January transfer window by completing a deal to bring Port Vale defender Clayton McDonald to the Memorial Stadium.
Ward has been biding his time to find the right men to help Rovers in their battle to beat the drop and has been looking to strengthen key areas down the spine of his side.
The manager had already strengthened the centre of his defence with the signing of Mark McChrystal a fortnight ago – but a right-footed centre-half to compliment a host of left-footers remained a key target.
Ward yesterday moved to solve that problem by agreeing a deal to take the former Manchester City youth-teamer, who has recently fallen out-of-favour at Vale Park, on board until the end of the season.
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"Clayton has had over twenty games in top of the table Port Vale's side this season, pushing with a purpose there," Ward said.
"I had a good chat with him after training this morning and there's a purpose here as well, albeit a different one, of course. He's up for the task and for the games to come.
"Port Vale have signed Darren Purse, which just edges Clayton out of a starting position up there, and he also accepts it might be difficult to get a start with us following our win at Fleetwood.
"He's a really good, solid, professional footballer, who knows the score and I am going to give him his chance and hope he takes it.
"Micky Adams has to protect his own situation at Port Vale, of course, so there is a 24-hour recall available after the first month. I'm still very hopeful that Clayton will be with us for 93 days, which will take him up until the end of the season."
McDonald, who stands at 6ft 6ins, will also add a significant aerial presence and threat at set-pieces and is seen as a good alternative to skipper Garry Kenneth, who is sidelined with a knee injury for the remainder of the season.
"The loss of Garry means we are a little bit tight for people in those central defensive positions and really only have Mark McChrystal and Tom Parkes," said Ward.
"If everything goes well they can still keep playing, but Tom can move around a little bit either into midfield or full back, so I have signed Clayton to cover all eventualities.
"While he is 24, he does have quite a little bit of experience and I think that is vital, particularly in central positions.
"We have already strengthened down the middle of the pitch now, with a goalkeeper a centre back and a midfielder with players who have a bit of experience.
"We are trying just to toughen things up so that whatever happens we have players who can deal with whatever situations arise during games."
McDonald has played over 50 games for Port Vale since joining the club 18 months ago and has also had spells at Walsall, Chesterfield and Macclesfield Town.