Signing Joe Riley for Oxford United was a “no-brainer” according to head coach Michael Appleton, despite the full back’s injury record.
The 22-year-old agreed a six-month loan from Bolton Wanderers yesterday and is in line to make his debut against Wolverhampton Wanderers tonight (7.45).
Riley made his Premier League debut three seasons ago, but a promising career has stalled due to injury problems.
The right back has not played a competitive game since January 2013 and missed the whole of last season with a cruciate ligament injury.
But Appleton, whose career was cut short by a knee injury, views it as an opportunity to sign a Championship-standard player who would otherwise have been out of United’s reach.
“Without a shadow of a doubt,” he said.
“He’s a lad who went into it very young and people were expecting big things from him, it’s just unfortunate he suffered an injury.
“If he hadn’t then he would probably have been a regular in the Championship for Bolton as we speak.
“There is a small risk that goes with it, but sometimes you’ve got to take calculated risks, because if you don’t then you don’t achieve anything.”
He added: “Joe’s been one of those I’ve taken an interest in to see how he recovered and when I heard there was an availability to sign him I thought it was a no-brainer.”
Riley returned to full training before the end of last season without any issues and featured for Bolton in their pre-season tour to Denmark and Sweden.
After a testing time, the Salford-born defender is thrilled to have a chance to play regularly.
He said: “I’ve not missed a day’s training and I’ve been available for every game, so I feel as though I’m fully fit.
“Hopefully now all my injuries are behind me. I’m just raring to go, as a footballer you just want to play.”
United’s newest signing will compete with David Hunt for a starting spot at right back this season.
It means full back Matt Bevans is likely to be encouraged, along with striker Tyrone Marsh, to go out on loan until January.
Appleton said: “He’s a young player similar to Tyrone and a couple of the other ones.
“If they’re not going to get enough minutes here I would rather see them play football elsewhere and asking questions of myself.”