Altrincham have significantly increased their defensive options for next season by snapping up centre-back Jake Cooper from Rotherham United.

Alty boss Phil Parkinson initially signed the commanding 21-year defender on loan at the beginning of February and was increasingly impressed with his form as the Robins made a strong finish to their National League campaign.

Slotting seamlessly into the back four alongside Toby Mullarkey, Cooper made 12 appearances, including 11 starts, and underlined his threat in the opposition area with a goal in the 5-0 win against Weymouth on March 8.

Solid and reliable defensively, and comfortable bringing the ball forward, he proved himself a valuable asset, and Parkinson was delighted to make the move permanent when the opportunity presented itself, ahead of the transition to full-time football at the start of next season.

“Coops is one of the brightest up-and-coming prospects we came across last season,” said the Alty manager.

“The experience he has at 21 years old makes him a valuable player to us in this model.

“He’s proven at this level and has so much potential, he’ll thrive in the full-time environment and grow into an established first-team player at National League level.”

The capture of Cooper softens the blow of failing to secure Kyle Ferguson for next season after the central defender decided to join League Two Harrogate Town.

Alty did their utmost to keep 22-year old Ferguson and offered him terms for a full-time deal, but the lure of playing in the Football League proved decisive after it became clear there was no shortage of interest from League Two clubs, following his outstanding form for the Robins in the closing stages of last season.

The Robins still have plenty of proven cover at the back, however, after signing Ross Barrows, Lewis Baines, Aidan Roxburgh and Liam Brockbank and now landing Cooper on a permanent basis.