HUDDERSFIELD Town have made Nottingham Forest centre-back Joel Lynch their fifth close-season signing.
The 24-year-old former Brighton man was out of contract after an impressive campaign in the heart of the City Ground defence.
And the newly-promoted Galpharm club, who start pre-season training tomorrow, have won the race for the signature of the Wales-qualified star, who has had one call-up but is yet to feature at international level.
Town manager Simon Grayson is delighted to have Lynch on board and said: “This is a fantastic deal for us because, without going into too much detail, around six to eight Championship and two Premier League clubs showed a very strong interest in Joel.
“We’ve had to be patient and we’ve worked very hard, but it’s all worthwhile and we’re delighted to have him here.
“Joel is a strong, athletic, left-sided centre half who can also play at left back.
“He’s a good age and a great lad and he was a big influence in keeping Nottingham Forest up last season
“The fact that he has chosen to come to us is evidence that people are really buying into what we’re trying to do here – it’s a real coup for Town.”
Championship rivals Forest have now lost all six of the out-of-contract players who had been offered new deals.
Eastbourne-born Lynch, who will follow fellow defender Paul Dixon, midfielders Oliver Norwood and Adam Clayton and striker Sean Scannell to Town, came through Brighton’s junior system, helping them reach the FA Youth Cup quarter-finals in 2006.
The first of his 95 senior appearances for the Seagulls came in a Championship clash against Southampton that season.
After falling out of favour at Brighton, he joined Forest, initially on loan, early in 2008-09, with the move made permanent for £200,000 at the end of that season.
Lynch, who has also operated at left-back, has played 90 times for Forest, 39 of those appearances coming last season, when he scored three goals.
Fans will now wait to see whether Town pursue their interest in Reading centre-back Sean Morrison, who starred in the League I play-off final win over Sheffield United while on loan.
Town will send their development team for a friendly at non-league Radcliffe Borough on Friday, August 3 (7.00). The Evo-Stik (Northern Premier) League club are offering free admission as part of an open night but would welcome donations.