Joe Edwards signs new Bristol City contract
JOE Edwards has decided to stay at Bristol City and fight for a place in the first team.
Offered a new one-year contract at the end of last season, the former academy defender finally put pen to paper last night, despite attracting interest from other clubs.
The 21-year-old will now focus all his energies on challenging first-choice right-back Richard Foster when the new npower Championship campaign kicks off in August.
Handed a debut by then-Robins manager Keith Millen against Preston at Deepdale in February 2011, Edwards has since made just two starts for City.
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Starved of first-team opportunities, he had to go to Stockport County and Yeovil Town in search of regular football last term.
But he made a favourable impression when he played for City at Burnley on the final day of the season and McInnes is confident Edwards can improve further over the next 12 months.
McInnes said: "When I first arrived Joe was at Stockport on loan, but I liked his approach from the outset.
"At times, he was playing out of position, but he was just desperate to get games. He was driven and wanted to do well.
"The next big move came from his loan spell at Yeovil Town. He did really well there and Yeovil were desperate to keep him.
"At League One level he has shown he can cope, but at that stage we recalled him because we needed cover for the run-in. When there's a real feeling that the player wants to be here then you're always confident a deal can be done.
"On the back of committing himself to the club, I'm sure he will have that hunger to earn a place in our first team. He's got it all to prove, but we certainly feel he's someone we'd like to work with."
Primarily a right-back, Edwards has also featured in central defence and on the right side of midfield, a role he adopted with considerable success during his time with Yeovil.
But his best chance of breaking into City's team appears to be as a right-back. Given that McInnes believes the versatile Cole Skuse, who featured on the right side of the back four on several occasions last season is most usefully deployed in the centre of midfield, Edwards could emerge as a viable alternative to Foster.
McInnes said: "I know Joe sees his best position as right-back, but he can also play in a midfield three.
"He has great energy and must be a real nuisance to play against. He's honest enough to admit he has areas he needs to work on and improve, but he will get the chance to develop in the next year with us, and hopefully for more seasons to come."