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(Sunday, 16th March, 2008)

BALLYMENA United have completed the signing of former Southampton and Northern Ireland goalkeeper Alan Blayney.

The goalkeeper signed a deal at the Showgrounds until the end of the 2008/2009 season before Saturday's game with Armagh City; after training with the Sky Blues for the last week.

26-year-old, Blayney, will not be eligible to play this season for the Braidmen, and will likely join Irish League First Division side Tobermore United on loan for the last two months of the season.

Brought up in North Belfast, Alan shot to prominence in May 2004 when he made his debut in the English Premier League for Southampton, and won the Sky Sports 'Save of the Season' when he saved an Alan Shearer effort from point blank range.

The promising goalkeeper was sent out on loan to a host of English clubs including Stockport County, Bournemouth, Rushen & Diamonds and Brighton and Hove Albion.

Doncaster Rovers paid Southampton 50,000 for his services in January 2006 and that summer he was included by Lawrie Sanchez in the Northern Ireland squad that would travel to the USA for a post-season tour.

He made his international debut against Romania in Chicago in a 2-0 defeat, this was his only full international cap - he also won 4 under-21 caps for Northern Ireland.

In February 2007, he joined Oldham Athletic before returning back to Ireland in August last year to sign for Dublin side Bohemians.

The signing of Blayney signals Tommy Wright's intent at Ballymena; "It may raise a few eyebrows but I'm on record in saying that I want to sign quality and strengthen our goalkeeping options."

"Alan's here, he's experienced and it's a chance for him to get his career back on track and he'll help all the other goalkeepers here."

* Meanwhile in other news, English defender Dean Pooley has been released by Ballymena United by mutual consent.

The former Millwall defender only made two appearances at the Sky Blues after signing in the January transfer window.