DIRECTOR of football Andy Preece has made his first signings of the summer with the addition of ex-Football League defender Paul Connolly and ex-Stoke City Under-21 midfielder Jake Cook.

The 32-year-old Connolly, who signs from Stockport County, has made more than 300 Football League appearances for Plymouth Argyle, Derby County, Sheffield United, Leeds United, Portsmouth, Preston North End, Millwall, Crawley Town and Luton Town.

A product of the youth ranks at Argyle, Liverpool-born Connolly became a first team regular at Home Park and made 162 appearances before a move to Derby in 2008, becoming first choice right-back and later captain under manager Paul Jewell.

Shortly after a loan to Sheffield United, he agreed a three-year deal with Leeds and made 58 appearances interspersed by loan spells with Portsmouth and Preston.

Connolly left Leeds following the expiry of his contract at the end of the 2012/13 season and was linked with a move to MLS side New York Red Bulls. But he joined Millwall on a short-term deal before being released after injury had marred his stay at The Dell.

In February 2014, Connolly joined Crawley Town on a deal until the end of the season when he was released and signed for League Two club Luton Town on a one-year contract.

But after struggling with fitness and injuries he was released early from his contract in April last year and moved to Edgeley Park.

"I've been chasing Paul what seems like all close season," Preece says. We needed to replace Ian Kearney and we've been very lucky to get Paul. 

"His experience and quality will be so valuable to the squad, very rarely do you get a player of his pedigree coming to the WPL when still at the top of his game. 

"I've watched him half a dozen times and he always looked like he was playing below his level. Tom Field and Glenn Rule were raving about him at Stockport saying he should be playing league football."

The second new arrival, Cook, is a 20-year-old Shrewsbury-born midfielder who spent 12 years at Stoke City and played for the Under-18 and Under-21 sides.

He spent last season with Guilsfield in the Huws Gray Alliance and Preece added: "We looked at Jake over 12 months ago but he had an injury so couldn't show his best. 

"We have monitored him all season at Guilsfield where he was outstanding. He caused us problems when we played them in the cup and was the standout player in the Alliance. 

"This continues our recruitment of exciting young players with huge potential."

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