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Pompey's Paul Cooks up a deal to sign Stevens

FORMER Ireland U21 cap Enda Stevens has ended his time as Premier League player and signed up for a stint in the fourth tier after he agreed a move to Portsmouth.

Stevens was released by Aston Villa when his contract ran out and after holding talks with a number of clubs, he's opted to move to League Two outfit Pompey, who are currently managed by ex-Sligo Rovers boss Paul Cook. The 24-year-old knows the club well from a loan spell at Fratton Park and he says he sees the ambition in place there.

"It's easy to forget that this is a League Two club when you walk around the place and hopefully we can start to move back up the divisions," says Stevens, who joined Villa from Shamrock Rovers in 2012.

"Promotion is everyone's aim and it's time the club stopped underachieving and reached its potential.

"I've seen the average attendances here and I've heard about how brilliant the fans are from the gaffer and the chairman. I want to hit the ground running, get a good pre-season under my belt and hopefully have a successful season. I'm buzzing to be here and I'm just looking forward to getting back for the start of pre-season.

"There were a few other options in League One, but this was a no-brainer because of the size of the club and the manager's aspirations for it," added Stevens.

The defender moved to Villa having caught the eye with Michael O'Neill's Rovers side. But while he managed to make initial progress at Villa Park, with seven Premier League appearances in his first full season, he fell out of favour and was sent out on loan.