PHIL Parkinson has significantly boosted Altrincham’s hopes of continuing their recent outstanding form after turning Mansfield midfielder Alistair Smith’s loan into a permanent move.

The transfer coup came just as Alty fans were anxiously wondering whether the club might be able to borrow Smith a little longer, as the final days of a highly-impressive loan spell ticked away.

Unbeknown to them, negotiations were taking place behind the scenes aimed at keeping him a lot longer, and they were successfully concluded earlier this week, with jubilant Alty boss Parkinson confirming the talented 20-year old had signed a deal with the Robins for the next 18 months.

It is a massive coup for Parkinson that he managed to convince Smith, in the face of rising competition from rival clubs, that his career prospects would be best served at The J.Davidson Stadium after Mansfield agreed to release him.

Reflecting on a breakthrough that keeps Smith at the club until the end of next season, at least, the Alty manager said: “I am delighted we are able to announce this after the success of Alistair’s loan period with us and a number of conversations with him.

Messenger Newspapers: Alty boss Phil Parkinson is delighted Alistair Smith has signedAlty boss Phil Parkinson is delighted Alistair Smith has signed

“He expressed a desire to sign permanently for us, and after negotiations with Mansfield, we were able to come up with an agreement to make it happen.

“I think everyone can see the impact Ally has had since joining us, and it would have been remiss of us not to try and sign such an exciting young talent on a permanent deal, once we knew it was possible.

“This yet again demonstrates the ambition of the club, even during difficult times, to make positive movements to ensure it remains and becomes successful at this level and hopefully, one day, at the one above.”

Smith, a multi-talented midfielder who mixes elegance with a hard, competitive edge, arrived on an initial one-month loan in mid-November and made an immediate impact on his debut by going on in the 72nd minute against Aldershot and laying on a goal for Tom Peers in a 2-1 home defeat.

He has since reeled off 11 league and cup starts, growing in stature with each appearance and stamping his authority on a sharp upturn in Alty’s fortunes in a division packed with big-spending full-time clubs.

Midway through that sequence of appearances, Alty requested an extension to his loan for a second month, and when it became apparent there was a possibility the arrangement could be made permanent, Parkinson wasted no time moving for a player who has settled seamlessly into the Robins dressing room and quickly become a highly-valued and popular figure at the club.

The news offsets the disappointment of Alty having to forfeit their Buildbase FA Trophy tie at Havant & Waterlooville due to a single Covid-19 case in their squad.