BURY’S youth team is building an international defence force to be reckoned with after confirming the signing of Scotland Under-17s keeper Jack Ruddy.

The 16-year-old former Rangers academy stopper has joined the club on scholarship forms.

And he will be available to challenge the current youth team number one – Wales U17s keeper Rhys Williams – for a starting spot when Bury kick off the Football Youth Alliance season at Morceambe on Saturday.

Youth team manager Ryan Kidd said: “We are delighted to have Jack on board, and he comes into a very strong goalkeeping department with Rhys Williams also having international honours.

“Jack spent two weeks with us, so that we could have a look at him and he could look at us and both parties are clearly happy with the progress made.

“With the manager we have at the club, Jack can see a progress route to the first team and it’s obviously something that he is keen to do given the time and coaching.

“We are delighted to have him with us.”

Ruddy joins the club amid rumours he was being courted by Liverpool, but while he refused to name the other clubs interested in him, he admitted the lure of possible first-team football at Bury was a big pull.

“There were a couple of other clubs, but I never went on trial,” said Ruddy, who has spent the last four years playing in Spain after moving with his family from Scotland to the Continent.

“Bury seem to like producing young players and bringing them into the first team, which is really positive from my point of view.

“Not being at a bigger club doesn’t bother me at the minute because the young lads get a chance at this club.

“And if bigger clubs come along Bury don’t stand in a player’s way, which is a brilliant philosophy.

“They also try to play an attractive style of football, starting from the back, which is great.”

Youth director Ian Kendall believes Ruddy’s decision to choose Bury over a number of potential suitors could be an important step in raising the awareness of the club’s burgeoning youth system.

And he added: “Jack is a tremendous young prospect and has impressed the coaching staff with his ability and enthusiasm for the game.

“We are equally delighted that the building blocks we have been putting in place to put this club on the map are being recognised by the football world.”