BLACKBURN Rovers last night moved to strengthen their defensive options by signing Alex Baptiste on a season-long loan from rivals Bolton Wanderers and agreeing a new contract for Markus Olsson.
The double deal is a big boost for Rovers boss Gary Bowyer having previously had just four senior defenders on his books.
The versatile Baptiste will spend the whole of the 2014-15 season at Ewood Park after completing his loan switch from Bolton although he will not be able to play in either Championship match against his parent club.
The 28-year-old, who can play anywhere across the back four, was a regular for the Whites last season.
He made 43 appearances and scored four goals including Bolton’s consolation in their 4-1 derby drubbing at Rovers in August.
Vastly experienced, Baptiste played 190 times for Blackpool, helping them win promotion to the Premier League in 2010, before joining the Whites on a free transfer last summer.
Baptiste’s arrival came hot on the heels of left back Olsson, 26, ending the uncertainty over his future by putting pen to paper on a one-year deal.
The Sweden international’s impressive performances at the end of last season, when he deputised for the injured Tommy Spurr, went a long way to ensuring he won a new contract.
Bowyer said: “I’m delighted that he has re-signed for another year.
“He has had to wait a long time due to the performances of Tommy Spurr but the level of displays that he put in at the end of the season against Birmingham, Charlton and Wigan show what a valuable member of the squad he is.”
Earlier in the day Rovers’ other out-of-contract player, veteran midfielder David Dunn, also signed a new one-year deal.
It means fans’ favourite Dunn will extend his stay at his hometown club into a 14th season.
Dunn, Olsson and Baptiste, who has been on tour with Bolton in Scandinavia, will not feature for Rovers in their pre-season friendly opener away to AFC Telford United today (3pm).
Baptiste, meanwhile, is currently on police bail after allegedly attacking a man who touched his wife’s bottom.
The Bolton News reported on Tuesday that Baptiste was arrested on suspicion of actual bodily harm after a brawl outside UBER bar in Poulton le Flyde, near Blackpool, on Saturday, June 28.
Josh Morris, meanwhile, has spoken of his delight at re-signing on loan for League One new boys Fleetwood Town.
The Rovers midfielder, who helped Fleetwood win promotion last season, said: “The success last season was a real big pull. I really enjoyed playing my football here and I hope I can carry it on this season.
“We spoke at the end of last season and if we could get the deal done, then it would be done. There was a bit of interest elsewhere but my first thought was always Fleetwood.”