ACCRINGTON Stanley boss Leam Richardson believes James Beattie will provide a vital contribution both on and off the field after bringing in his former Blackburn Rovers team-mate as the club’s new player-coach.

Beattie has been a free agent since leaving Sheffield United in the summer and has joined Stanley on an initial deal until January.

But the Reds hope to extend the 34-year-old’s stay at the Crown Ground and Richardson thinks the ex-England international will prove a key addition.

The duo played together as youngsters at Blackburn Rovers and Beattie later went on to star with Southampton and Everton.

“It’s massive for the club and for myself with the experience he will bring in,” said Richardson, whose Reds side host Northampton Town this afternoon.

“First and foremost he’s a quality player. He’s 34 but he still thinks he’s 24 and he’s already talked a lot about scoring goals.

“I had a couple of nice conversations with him over a cup of a coffee and it was evident that it could be a good move for both parties.

“We’ve had a good relationship since our Blackburn days.

“Being a coach as well will be a nice role for him to pass his experience on to the young lads here. They can only learn from him.”

Richardson had also been attempting to bring in former Stanley striker Terry Gornell on loan, but the 22-year-old yesterday signed for John Coleman’s Rochdale instead.

But Beattie’s arrival has already created a real excitement around the Crown Ground.

“I’m delighted to be here,” said Beattie, who could face the similarly high profile Edgar Davids when Stanley travel to Barnet on Friday.

“Leam has taken over as manager and asked me to come along and play some games and do a little bit in a coaching role. I’m delighted to be here and can’t wait to get started.

“The coaching role has put another angle on things for me but I’ve signed a playing contract so I want to get involved in that as soon as possible.

“If there’s anything I can lend to Leam and the coaching staff here then that’ll be great.”

Finances could have been a potential stumbling block to any move but chief executive Rob Heys said: “It wasn’t too difficult because I think he understands the situation here and he didn’t have any big demands.

“He will be great for Accrington Stanley.”