Derby County have strengthened their defensive rearguard with the signing of influential Coventry City central defender Richard Keogh for an undisclosed fee.

Derby County have strengthened their defensive rearguard with the signing of influential Coventry City central defender Richard Keogh for an undisclosed fee.

The 25-year-old, who wore the captain's armband at the Ricoh Arena, has put pen-to-paper on a three-year deal with the Rams after the Sky Blues accepted Derby's bid for the player earlier in the week.

Keogh was Coventry's Player of the Year in each of his two seasons in the West Midlands, and he also saw his performances recognised by his peers after he picked up their Players' Player of the Year Award at the end of last season. He also collected similar accolades during his impressive spells with Bristol City and Carlisle United.

Derby have had to face stiff competition to land his services, as a number of other Championship sides have been vying for his signature throughout the summer.

However, Clough's persistence in his summer-long pursuit of the commanding centre-back has paid off and he has persuaded Keogh to become Derby's third summer signing following the recent arrivals of Michael Jacobs from Northampton Town and Paul Coutts from Preston North End.

Clough has also confirmed that Keogh will wear the captain's armband in the absense of Shaun Barker, who will miss the entire 2012-13 season with a serious knee injury.

Clough said: "Everyone knows we have been looking to strengthen the central defensive area of the team and we believe Richard fits the bill in every respect, so we're delighted to get one of our top targets on board.

"Despite Coventry's relegation last season, he was a commanding presence at the heart of their defence and he has both very good leadership qualities and the right sort of attitude to fit into our squad.

New Signing: Richard Keogh has penned a three-year deal with Derby County

"We've done our homework on him for a long period of time and we believe this is an important signing for us.

"The work we've done this summer in the transfer market has allowed us to strengthen the squad as a whole and we'll continue to build in the same way moving forwards.

"I am delighted that he has decided to join us and gives us great options alongside Jake Buxton, Mark O'Brien and Tom Naylor in the central defensive position."

The former Republic of Ireland under-21 international began his career as a schoolboy with Ipswich Town before moving on to Stoke City's youth set-up, where he was loaned out to Icelandic side Vikingur to gain first-team experience whilst still a teenager.

Although Keogh was released by the Potters without making a single first-team appearance, he soon linked up with Bristol City on a free transfer for the beginning of the 2005-06 campaign.

A quartet of loan moves followed, as Keogh enjoyed temporary spells with Wycombe Wanderers, Huddersfield Town, Carlisle United and Cheltenham Town, as well as making 40 league appearances during three seasons at Ashton Gate.

During the 2006-07 season Keogh was handed the Republic of Ireland under-21 captain's armband, as well as being voted Bristol City's Young Player of the Year.

In August 2008, Keogh joined Carlisle United for an undisclosed fee and went on to make 73 appearances, where he quickly became a fans' favourite.

In his final season with the Cumbrians, Keogh won the 2009-10 Carlisle United Player of the Year Award and his impressive displays for the League 1 outfit attracted the interest of Coventry.

Keogh signed a three-year deal with the Sky Blues in June 2010 after his contract with Carlisle had expired, and because he was under the age of 24 at the time, an undisclosed compensation fee was paid for his services.

He played in every minute of every game during the 2010-11 campaign; scoring his first and only goal for the Sky Blues on the final game of the season against Norwich City, before being voted as their Player of the Year.

Last season, despite Coventry's relegation from the Championship, Keogh's performances did not go unnoticed as he walked away with the Player of the Year and Players' Player of The Year awards - racking up 91 consecutive appearances in the process.