THEY say there is no sentiment in football and Bury boss David Flitcroft has assured fans there was none involved in the signing of cancer survivor Joe Thompson.

Flitcroft confirmed today that the 25-year-old former Tranmere midfielder has put pen to paper on a pay-as-you-play deal as he continues his recovery from Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

But while the youngster he first coached at Rochdale will be monitored closely as his body bounces back from a six-month course of chemotherapy, the Shakers manager believes he could play a more important role as the season progresses.

"Joe has earned it – it was never going to be a sentimental contract," said Flitcroft.

"Joe knew that and the chairman knew that, there was no sentiment involved.

"This is about us trying to compete at the top end of this league – there is no sentiment when it comes down to that.

"There is a bit of unknown, we are not really sure how long it is going to take for Joe to fully recover his body power and body strength.

"But we believe there is certainly enough fight in there for him to want to improve and get better and stronger.

"I have no doubts over the next two months Joe will get to that point, but every day is tough for him. This is a fit squad, a competitive squad and he is playing catch-up.

"He’s in front of where he needs to be – where the doctors have put him and where the specialist has put him.

"He has fought for his life once and now he is fighting for his footballing life and Joe will come through it, I am sure he will.

"He has just fought for his life and beat cancer. I don’t know what that is like.

"His body has taken a whacking with the treatment he has received, so physically he has taken one hell of a smash up but mentally I want him to be in a place where he loves football and comes in every day and has the same aspirations that we have got this season.

"He is a fantastic person, he really is. He warms the environment, he is infectious, he is enthusiastic, he loves football and he is a thinker.

"We have signed a player that will get better as the season develops."

Flitcroft has also confirmed the signing of 25-year-old former Northampton Town defender Joe Widdowson on a short-term deal.

"Joe was quite an important one because I believe that a left-back is quite a specialist position," he added.

"By bringing in left-back cover it also gives me another winger as I can now play Huss (Chris Hussey) in left midfield. So it is a fantastic signing.

"It is only a short-term deal, I want Joe to really come here and fight for that left-back slot and that is what he is prepared to do.

"Joe's really backing himself in the contract he has signed, to come here and do well and really get back on the football map and I am delighted with that signing because it really does give us flexibility down that left-hand side now."

While there were two new arrivals confirmed at the JD Stadium today, James Burke left the club.

Flitcroft, who signed the 20-year-old defender from Huddersfield Town in January, said he had been released from his contract “by mutual consent”.

And the Bury boss revealed that former Shaker Peter Sweeney was now unlikely to hook up with his squad after spending the last few weeks on trial.