Carrick Rangers' Danske Bank Premiership preparations have received a major boost with confirmation of Caolan Loughran's decision to sign a permanent deal.
Loughran spent last season on loan at the Loughshore Hotel Arena club from Ballymena United and proved key to Rangers' Bluefin Sport Championship promotion success.
The centre-back's return of 10 goals in 33 appearances alongside defensive stability secured a string of individual internal honours and put Loughran as the subject of external transfer interest.
However, Loughran's decision to sign fresh terms with Rangers left manager Niall Currie praising the 24-year-old's loyalty.
"I am delighted that the big man has decided to stay with us," said Currie on the official Carrick Rangers website. "Loyalty is pretty much unheard of in these times, but Caolan has shown that enjoying your football is sometimes the most important thing.
"He has grown with this squad and has been, as they say, one of the main men - that’s what he should want.
"By staying here he has turned down offers which would have given him European football; he has stayed loyal and remembered where he was when we signed him.
"He is a young man with everything ahead of him and he will only get better so I am over the moon that he has decided that he will do that with us.
"Credit must also go to our chairman, Peter Clarke, who has played an integral part, alongside myself, in persuading Caolan that this is the place for him.”
Loughran told the Rangers website he was determined "to kick on and improve again on last season".
"I am delighted to have signed for Carrick Rangers," said Loughran, who was named in the Bluefin Sport Championship's Team of the Year. "The club gave me a great platform to show my ability on the pitch last season as we achieved promotion to the Premiership and I was selected in the Team of the Year.
"It was a great campaign and now it is time to kick on and improve again on last season.
"I am looking forward to getting started again in the new season at a club which has great people throughout it, which made this decision that little bit easier."