Manager Alan Stubbs is convinced new boy Will Vaulks is ready for the Championship after Rotherham United’s cross-border raid to land the young midfield ace.
The Millers this evening clinched the signing of Vaulks, aged 22, who arrived from Scottish club Falkirk on a three-year deal for an undiclosed fee.
They beat off competition from fellow second-tier sides Barnsley and Bristol City for the highly-rated youngster who joined the Bairns three seasons ago from Tranmere Rovers and was in the final stages of his contract.
Stubbs said: “He’s someone I came across in Scotland, obviously from my time at Hibs. “He’s a young player and he’s combative. He has improved over the last couple of seasons since I’ve been in Scotland and he’ll give us a little bit of steel as he’s good at winning the ball back.
“He’s got a goal in him from midfield and the thing about him is that he’s still got untapped potential, and I think he is more than capable of making the step up to the Championship.”
Rotherham’s offer, thought to be around £300,000, was enough to see off a bid by Barnsley.
Vaulks becomes the fourth signing for Stubbs who spotted the potential of the midfielder, who can also play at right-back, while he was manager of Hibernian.
A Falkirk statment said: “Having held lengthy negotiations with more than one English Championship team, we have now come to an agreement which has been deemed acceptable by the board of directors of Falkirk FC.
“Will was into his final year at Falkirk FC and, with the possibility of losing the midfielder’s services for nothing in December, the substantial offer put forward by Rotherham United was one that was in both the interests of the player and club to be accepted.
“There is no under-estimating that losing Will is a massive blow to the club both on and off the field.”
Wirral-born Vaulks, who was regarded as one of the best young players north of the border, made 132 appearances for Falkirk after joining them on a permanent deal in July 2013, scoring 14 goals.
In his only game so far this season, he scored the opener on Tuesday in a 3-0 Scottish League Cup victory over Elgin City.
The Rotherham boss’s knowledge of the Scottish game has worked to the Millers’ advantage as he had already identified Vaulks’ quality before other English clubs came calling.
Stubbs added: “For me, he was Falkirk’s main player.
“The thing that impressed me was that he performed in the bigger games. He will be a loss to Falkirk and hopefully that will be Rotherham’s gain.”
Vaulks was in the Falkirk team which beat Hibs over two legs in last season’s Scottish Championship play-off semi-final and there were reports that Stubbs had been keen to take him to Easter Road. Falkirk went on to lose in the final to Kilmarnock and miss out on the Scottish Premier League.
Known for his somersault celebration when he scores, Vaulks was named in the 2013/14 PFA Scottish Championship Team of the Year.
The midfield man waved to supporters at the end of Tuesday’s win, with many Falkirk fans interpreting that gesture as his farewell salute.
He was in the Bairns side which drew 2-2 with Rotherham on July 18 2014 when then-manager Steve Evans took the Millers on a pre-season tour of Scotland.
Falkirk manager Peter Houston said: “I will never hold back a young player trying to better himself.
“He owes Falkirk nothing because he’s been superb, even before my time. In my two years, Will Vaulks has been a fantastic player.”
Vaulks joins other Stubbs recruits winger Anthony Forde, goalkeeper Lewis Price and midfielder Jake Forster-Caskey in South Yorkshire.
Meanwhile, striker Jonson Clarke-Harris is in good spirits following an operation on the anterior cruciate ligament injury he suffered on July 9 against Parkgate FC.
He tweeted: “I’m feeling great. It’s a long road, but I can’t wait to be back in a Rotherham top.”
Rotherham play Premier League Sunderland tomorrow (3pm) in the only friendly at AESSEAL New York Stadium this pre-season.