BRIGHTLINGSEA Regent boss Tom Rothery believes the R's can help George Keys reclimb the football ladder.

The 18-year-old defender has signed on a permanent basis after being on loan last season, having joined from Colchester United in January.

Having since been released by the U's, he was looking for a club to revive his career and Rothery believes the right-back or centre-half has made a smart choice in picking Regent.

“It’s a great signing and really pleasing that George felt we were the right club to hopefully push him back up towards the professional game," said the R's boss.

"He joined at the beginning of January last season and adapted really well.

"(Assistant boss) Pip (Boyland) and I both saw real progression in his play and his confidence grew as the season went on, to the point where he was a regular starter and doing so well that he won an award for young player-of-the-year at the end-of-season awards.

"I’m hoping that now George has committed to us we can really see his game develop as it did last season and he can have a really important season for us.

"At 18, playing regular football is really important for his development and obviously last season showed that Pip and I can give him that regular game time.

"I feel we can help him to potentially push himself back up towards the level he’d like to get to."

Brightlingsea have their first pre-season friendly tomorrow when they welcome an Ipswich Town XI to the Taydal Stadium (kick-off 3pm).