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Manchester United defender Luke McCullough in switch to Cheltenham Town

By Gloucestershire Echo  |  Posted: January 26, 2013

Manchester United loanee Luke McCullough

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MANCHESTER United prospect Luke McCullough is ready for senior first-team football, according to Cheltenham Town's assistant manager Neil Howarth.

The 18-year-old central defender joined the Robins on a month's loan yesterday and was added straight to the squad for last night's home match against Rochdale.

Howarth played a pivotal role in the Northern Ireland youth international's move from the Premier League leaders.

He said: "Luke may be young, but he is not short of any of the attributes needed for first-team football.

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"He is very strong, aggressive, good in the air and has organisational skills.

"He hasn't played any senior football yet, but we've done our homework and he comes highly recommended, so we are confident he'll step up to the mark."

The move came about as a result of Howarth's association with former Burnley team-mate and current Manchester United reserve team coach Warren Joyce.

"I used to play with Warren and I got back in touch with him a couple of years ago," Howarth said.

"Manchester United are obviously very careful about where they send their young players out on loan and they were happy for Luke to come to Cheltenham, which is great.

"He has captained their Academy team and also Northern Ireland youth teams, so that shows the type of character he is."

Formerly with IFA Premiership club Dungannon Swifts, McCullough will provide competition for Steve Elliott, Keith Lowe and Alan Bennett at centre-half, giving Mark Yates another option, with Harry Hooman ruled out for the rest of the season following surgery on his foot.

Yates was also delighted to sew up a contract extension for midfielder Darren Carter until the end of the season.

The former Birmingham City man, currently sidelined with an ankle problem, has scored five goals in 21 League Two starts this season.

Carter missed the whole of last season due to a torn groin muscle having spent his entire career before that in the top two divisions.

The 6ft 2in left-footer has also turned out for West Bromwich Albion and Preston along with loan spells at Sunderland and Millwall.

Yates' top attacking target Paul Benson was at the Abbey Business Stadium to watch Cheltenham play Rochdale, but a loan deal for the Swindon Town man is yet to be finalised.

A midfield enforcer in the Yates mould is also believed to be close to signing a permanent deal at the Abbey Business Stadium.

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