Scott Bartlett hails 'massive coup' as Scott Laird signs for Weston
PUBLISHED: 09:13 21 June 2019 | UPDATED: 09:13 21 June 2019
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Weston's hopes of bouncing back from relegation have been buoyed by the signing of experienced Football League defender Scott Laird.
The left-back - son of former Seagulls boss Craig - has close to 400 appearances under his belt - including spells at Stevenage, Preston North End and Forest Green Rovers, and joins as player-assistant to manager Scott Bartlett.
The highlight of Laird's career came in 2015, when he scored past David De Gea for Preston in their 3-1 defeat to Manchester United in the FA Cup fifth round.
The 31-year-old finished last season playing for Walsall in League One, and said the move to BS24 was a 'great opportunity' amid offers to stay in the Football League.
He said: "I can't wait to start. This club has a lot to offer, its plan for the future and the potential is the biggest selling point. It's now down to us to work within sensible budget constraints, to test ourselves in lots of ways and fulfil the potential this club has by working our way up the pyramid, taking it one game at a time.
"The supporters, owners and management staff are all aiming for the same thing and with the squad of players we are assembling I'm very excited to get going.
"I could have stayed in the Football League, and had offers to do so, but this is an exciting opportunity."
Bartlett is confident Laird will make a big impact at The Optima Stadium, as Weston rebuild after finishing bottom of the National League South last term.
He said: "Scott has had an unbelievable career and is a perfect fit for us. With around 400 league games, and promotions, his career speaks for itself.
"First and foremost, Scott is still a fantastic player and finished last season playing in League One.
"He is a leader both on and off the pitch and in all honesty, this is a massive coup for the club."
The arrival of Laird comes as the club revealed it is likely long-serving stalwarts Jason Pope and captain Jacob Cane will leave this summer.
Bartlett added: "As previously discussed, I would have liked to keep Jason and Jacob and have been in regular contact with both.
"I have a good relationship with them both but it has become clear they are hoping to play their football elsewhere next season, which has become a distraction.
"I have spoken to both and made improved offers which have been politely rejected. For this reason, I have given them my blessing to look elsewhere because quite honestly we need to do the same now."