Welsh under-21 arrives at Pride Park from local rivals.

Welsh under-21 arrives at Pride Park from local rivals.

Derby County have completed the signing of exciting young defender Kieron Freeman from East Midlands neighbours Nottingham Forest for an undisclosed fee.

Freeman has put pen-to-paper on a two-year deal with the Rams, with the option of a further year, after the two clubs agreed an undisclosed fee for his services earlier in the week.

The 20-year-old, who can perform at full-back or even in midfield, will feature for Derby’s Under-21 team away to Leeds United this afternoon after completing the formalities of the move over the last few days.

Manager Nigel Clough has revealed he was pleased to beat off stiff competition to land the much sought-after Wales under-21 international.

He said: “We’re pleased to bring Kieron to Derby County and he fits the bill in terms of the type of player we are looking to bring into the squad.

“He’s young, he has potential and we’ve been impressed with what we’ve seen of him, whether it be at Forest or while he was out on loan at both Mansfield and Notts County.

“He certainly increases our options in defence and midfield and we’re confident he’ll settle in just fine.”

Born in Arnold, Nottinghamshire, Freeman came through the youth ranks at the City Ground before he was named in the first-team squad for the first time as a substitute by then manager Billy Davies for a League Cup tie with Bradford City in August 2010.

Freeman made his first professional appearance for Forest in August 2011, as a second-half substitute in the Second Round of the League Cup victory over Wycombe Wanderers.

In a bid to gain more first-team experience, Freeman joined Blue Square Premier side Mansfield Town on an emergency loan deal towards the midway point of last season and he went on to make nine starts for the Stags, before returning to Forest.

Under the stewardship of former manager Steve Cotterill, he was handed his full debut for the Reds in their 0-0 draw at home to Leicester City in the Third Round of the FA Cup in January of this year.

A few days later, Freeman crossed the River Trent to join League 1 Notts County on a month’s loan and the Welsh youth international made his debut in a 2-1 defeat to AFC Bournemouth. His impressive performances for the Magpies saw his initial spell extended until the end of the campaign, and his eye-catching displays led to Freeman picking up the Football League’s Young Player of the Month award in February.

He made 19 appearances in total for Keith Curle’s side, scoring his first professional goal on the final day of the season in a 4-1 home win over Colchester United at Meadow Lane.

In the process of turning out for Forest, Notts County and Mansfield, he became the youngest player to have ever played for all three professional Nottinghamshire clubs.