STEPHEN Dawson's return to Gigg Lane has been greeted as a huge signing by Bury manager Lee Clark.

The 31-year-old Irish midfielder, who spent two years at the club before leaving for Leyton Orient in June 2010, has signed a three-year deal with the Shakers.

According to a statement released by Bury FC, he turned down the offer of a new contract from Scunthrope United, who missed out on promotion from League One after losing to Millwall in the play-offs.

There was also reported interest from relegated Championship clubs Blackburn Rovers, Wigan and Rotherham, although that has not been confirmed.

But Clark was still more than happy to snare his third signing in five days, following the arrivals of striker Jermaine Beckford and full-back Phil Edwards.

"This is a huge signing for us," he said. "Stephen is a player that I have tried to entice at previous clubs, but I have finally got my man. 

"Bury Football Club have a returning hero and I know that he was a very popular player for the club during his previous spell.

 “He was the driving force for Scunthorpe last season and captained them into the play-offs.

"This signing is another statement of intent of what we are trying to do. 

"I know I have a player with us that will police the dressing room for me, and he won’t need any encouragement to do that.

“Stephen is a winner, I’ve quickly realised that since meeting him. 

"This is a signing that will excite the fans. 

"He is over 30 years of age mark, which people seem to think is coming to the end but, in the modern game, it means nothing because he is another player that has looked after himself.

“We believe we have a very instrumental player for what we are trying to do. 

"He plays with high energy, high tempo, plays on the front foot and is that box-to-box midfield player that everyone wants to see. 

"He is a very driven player and I am absolutely delighted that we have him with us.”

Dawson began his career with Leicester in 2003 but did not play for the first team before signing for Mansfield Town.

After making 120 appearances for the Stags, Alan Knill swooped to take him to Bury, and he helped take them into the League Two play-offs in his first season.

Since leaving for Orient, Dawson had spells at Barnsley and Rochdale before moving to Scunthorpe in May 2105, and is four games short of 500 career appearances.