Midfielder Harry Paton has opted to leave Ross County – as a third new signing further bolstered the Staggies’ squad.
Canadian international Paton, 24, had been offered a new contract with the Highlanders, but he has told manager Malky Mackay he’s ready for a fresh challenge and is looking elsewhere.
County confirmed the signing on Wednesday of former West Brom and Oxford City left-back George Harmon on a two-year deal.
Paton seeking ‘a fresh challenge’
He said of Paton, who joined from Hearts in 2018: “Harry’s out of contract and no longer with the club.
“He wanted to look elsewhere. We had the conversation in December, and I offered him a contract.
“He felt it was better for himself to get to the end of the season and look for a fresh challenge, which is fine.
“As we saw, it didn’t stop me playing him. He was out injured for a wee period of time, but even in our very last game of the campaign he was involved.
“He was someone who gave his all for the club whenever he played. There was never a point where I felt he was looking after himself and that I should take him out of the team.
“Right up to the last day, he showed a great attitude at the football club, having been a good addition to the squad when he signed from Hearts.
“That’s been proven over a number of years and I just wish him all the best wherever his career takes him next.”
Brother Ben Paton has bright future
Harry’s brother Ben remains at the club, with the chance now gone of the two pairing up in the middle of the pitch in the future.
Mackay said: “I’m sure Ben and Harry would have loved to play next to each other, but it is what it is.
“Even as brothers playing in a similar position, your career paths are different and you find your own way.
“Ben came in from Blackburn Rovers and was always going to be a longer-term one for us.
“He was just getting used to Scottish football when I had to throw him in at the deep end, really, as a left-back.
“I have to say, he did terrifically well to plug those gaps for us when we needed him there.
“Midfield is where he wants to be and there’s competition for places in there.
“He is one we have hopes for and I thought when he came in for the last game of the season he did great.”
Left-back Harmon has got potential
The signing of former West Brom youth and Oxford City defender Harmon is a boost for Mackay ahead of the squad heading for pre-season training in Verona, Italy, next week.
Harmon was a mainstay of the Baggies under-18 and under 23 sides, featuring in Premier League 2 at only 17 years old.
After playing for West Brom’s under-23s in Premier League 2, he joined Oxford City last summer, helping them to a fifth-placed finish last season in National League South.
His performances for City were brought to Mackay’s attention and he is delighted to land a player with plenty of potential on top of his development playing in the men’s game in recent years.
The County boss added: “George is a promising young talent that we have tracked over a period of time.
“At 21, he has played men’s football and has thrived in that environment which is why we have brought him to the club.
“There are still aspects we want to develop with George, but he comes with a strong developmental pathway behind him at West Brom and is somebody we want to help as he keeps growing and learning.”