Milton Keynes Dons boss Russell Martin admitted that the club planned on signing Harry Darling in the summer, but the departure of Richard Keogh changed their plans.
The 21-year-old has joined the Dons from League Two leaders Cambridge United, after the departures of Richard Keogh, Baily Cargill and George Williams left the club with plenty of gaps along the back three.
Martin has expressed his delight at the signing, but admitted that Keogh's transfer to Huddersfield Town sped up the timeline in which the club were looking at signing the promising young centre back.
Speaking of his latest addition, Martin explained: "Harry is a player we have been keeping tabs on for some time. We’ve watched a lot of him, particularly in the last few months and he’s been our number one target at this position."
"It’s an important position with the way we want to play and we’ve been able to go and get one of the best central defenders in League Two and one of the best young talents at this level."
"We were looking towards the summer as a time to bring him in but, with Richard leaving, it sped that process up. The Chairman, Andy and Liam have worked very hard to get this deal done."
He concluded: "It’s a significant deal for the football club and it’s an important signing for us, short term and in the long term as well. We’re delighted to get it over the line."