Ross County manager Stuart Kettlewell has revealed he could have brought new signing Regan Charles-Cook to Victoria Park in January.
English winger Charles-Cook yesterday joined County on a two-year deal, after leaving Gillingham.
The English League One outfit had been keen to retain Charles-Cook but had yet to offer him a new deal, which allowed the Staggies to sign the 23-year-old without compensation.
Kettlewell says he had hoped to land Charles-Cook on a loan deal during the winter transfer window, but he is thrilled to get a permanent deal over the line.
Kettlewell said: “I think it’s one of the situations where players have to be offered a new contract within a period of time.
“I’m led to believe Gillingham did not offer Regan a contract within the right period of time, therefore I believe your right is then waived to any compensation.
“I suppose you could say we have exploited a situation, but he obviously didn’t have a contract offer in front of him, and we were pretty keen to take him.
“He is somebody myself and Steven Ferguson looked at in January in actual fact. We just couldn’t get it done.
“At that point it would probably have been a loan move, so I’m delighted to bring him in permanently after an opportunity opened up.”
Kettlewell is excited by the attributes former Arsenal and Charlton youth player Charles-Cook will bring, and believes the Staggies could profit from him in the future.
Ketttlewell added: “He will bring a real energy to the team, which is a characteristic we want.
“I’m told the reaction among Gillingham fans says a lot about how gutted they are to lose him.
“We feel we’re bringing in someone who has some value. I keep talking about this sell-on value. We don’t want to wish players to leave Ross County but, ideally, can we bring someone in who might go for a fee further down the line, having been successful with us?
“A lot of clubs across the board look at a similar model.”
Charles-Cook becomes County’s fourth summer signing, following the arrivals of Stephen Kelly, Connor Randall and Alex Iacovitti.
Kettlewell remains keen to strengthen with a left back high among his priorities, while the Staggies boss is also seeking goalkeeping cover after Ross Munro suffered a knee injury in training.