BURNLEY boss Eddie Howe believes the capture of long-term target Jason Shackell is a major signal of ambition by the club.
Howe lauded the experienced defender after snapping him up for an undisclosed fee, believed to be in the region of £1.1m, from Championship rivals Derby on a four-year deal.
The 28-year-old, voted runner-up as the Rams’ supporters’ player of the year last season, was an ever-present at Pride Park, and captained Nigel Clough’s side in the absence of defensive partner Shaun Barker.
Howe tracked the Stevenage-born centre-back during his single season at Oakwell, where he was named Barnsley’s player of the year for the 2010/11 campaign.
And, after missing out on that occasion, Howe was understandably ecstatic to finally land his man.
“Jason is somebody I’ve admired for a long time for various reasons,” said Howe.
“Firstly, he’s a fantastic professional and has the right character.
“Secondly for his playing ability. He’s an excellent player, composed, good on the ball, good size and certainly has very good leadership skills, so he’s a very good fit for us.
“Hopefully the fans will be excited by the signing. He’s a good footballing centre-half who definitely fits our philosophy.
“I do think it’s a show of intent, as he’s highly thought of throughout the Championship.
“Last year, I felt he was one of the top defenders in the league.
“It’s certainly a show of ambition, and hopefully the supporters will enjoy seeing Jason in a Burnley shirt.”
Shackell’s form and reputation had attracted numerous suitors, but Howe’s persistence in pursuing him paid off as he persuaded the former Norwich and Tykes skipper to commit his future to Turf Moor.
“It was a long, drawn out process for various reasons,” Howe said.
“We wanted to wait for the right one and we certainly felt Jason came under that bracket.
“We wanted to put all our thoughts and energies in to trying to get him to this club. He was worth waiting for and we’re delighted to get him.”
A model of consistency, Shackell started his career in the Canaries youth system, graduating to the first team and helping them clinch Premier League promotion in 2004.
Shackell joined Wolves in August 2008, helping lay the foundations for another Championship title success before rejoining Norwich on loan. He was then loaned out to Doncaster, before a switch to Barnsley reinforced his credentials.
He boasts more than 250 league appearances, valuable experience and authority that Howe feels will benefit the squad and the younger generation at Turf Moor.
“It’s something that we looked at, that we perhaps needed more in the squad,” Howe said.
“I think everyone’s aware we had a young squad last season and, at times, we missed a leader on the pitch, especially when Duffo was injured.
“You need that experience and that vocal point to your team.
“We do have leaders within that, David Edgar and obviously Chris McCann, but I feel Jason will add a lot to the group in that sense.
“It’ll be good for all the young players to have someone like Jason to look up to and learn from. Both on and off the pitch he’ll be a good example to them.”
Shackell will join his new team-mates for the first time today as the Clarets report back for pre-season training.
And Howe is excited about the prospect of being reacquainted with his squad after the summer break.
“It’s been a long summer and the lads have had a good break but we’re ready to get working,” he said.
“I’m excited by what we could be capable of this year, but we’ve still got a lot of work to do in terms of in the transfer market and also on the training pitch.
“The hard work starts now for us but we’re looking forward to that work, having a good pre-season, and making sure we’re ready for Port Vale.
“We’ll be looking at fitness levels and how the lads have looked after themselves, but I’m sure they’ll be no issues there.
“We’re confident all the lads will be in good shape.
“We’ll just be assessing where they are in that regard, but we have plans in place and our pre-season is all organised.
“Trying to get the group through injury free will be our biggest priority.