Danny Grainger says the “massive coup” of signing Jamie Devitt would not have happened without the backing of Workington Reds’ fans.

The former Carlisle United favourite joined Grainger’s side as a player-coach this week on a deal until the end of the season.

And manager Grainger, who is reunited with his ex-Blues team-mate, says the deal hinged on the financial backing supporters have given him in recent times.

Reds fans raised £21,790 through a ‘budget booster’ initiative and Grainger said: “This signing wouldn’t have happened without the budget booster. It’s played a huge part in the deal.

“We haven’t used all the money on Dev, we’ve dipped into that money to bring extra players in the last few weeks because of injuries, but this is a signing the fans have helped us make.

“I could have easily brought in two or three other players with that money but I wanted to earmark it for something the fans can look back at and say when Jamie Devitt was a success for Workington Reds, they played a massive part in it.

“It’s a huge thank-you to them for the backing they’ve given us. That’s us all pulling in the same direction. Every club needs that to be successful.”

Devitt will be in the Reds squad for a possible debut against Hyde United in the FA Trophy third qualifying round at Borough Park on Saturday.

The 33-year-old was released by Carlisle after an injury-hit 2022/23 season but is now back to fitness after a hamstring problem, and has been training with Grainger’s squad.

News and Star: Devitt was a valued member of Carlisle's 2022/23 promotion-winning squad even though injury limited his involvement on the pitchDevitt was a valued member of Carlisle's 2022/23 promotion-winning squad even though injury limited his involvement on the pitch (Image: Barbara Abbott)

The Workington boss believes the Irish playmaker’s influence will be felt on and off the pitch in west Cumbria.

“When he left Carlisle he was someone I earmarked straight away,” Grainger told the News & Star.

“There’s no hiding Dev’s quality. He’s had an injury at a poor time for him personally – it’s probably stopped him getting a contract at full-time level.

“I know Simmo [Paul Simpson] and Gav [Skelton] spoke highly of him around the dressing room when he was injured too. He’s a great personality and I know that first hand from playing with him.

“I know what he’s going to bring on the pitch, and also off it he’s just as important. He gives us that little bit of experience to help us through any tough times.

“He’s coming in as a player-coach and it’s massive for the club to be able to welcome a player of his stature and personality.

“To get someone like Dev, who’s living in Chorley and happy to travel up, it’s a massive coup for us and a massive positive for everyone at the club.”

Devitt had two spells at Carlisle and the first of which saw him regularly play in the same side as Grainger.

“I have a close personal relationship with him – we were room-mates, team mates, close friends, our families are close friends – and that probably helped me to be able to call on this one,” added the former United skipper.

News and Star: Workington boss Danny GraingerWorkington boss Danny Grainger (Image: Barbara Abbott)

“If we can get Jamie Devitt fit, firing and ready to go it’s going to be a massive positive for us.

“He’s not quite ready to go into periods of long minutes yet. We’re going to build him up and not rush him, and if he feels anything we might have to settle him down for a week here and there.

“He’s trained with us two or three times and shown his quality. The temptation will be to throw him into the swing of things but he’s been out a while and we have to be careful.

“He is going to be involved in the squad on Saturday, we’ll be hoping to get him minutes and build that up slowly.”

Grainger, meanwhile, is confident Devitt has the right personality to make the most of stepping down from the EFL into the Northern Premier League Premier Division.

“It’s a deal the club were happy to do but you still have to have the right mentality,” Grainger said.

“I look at Radcliffe as an example in our division – they have the likes of Luke Joyce and Nicky Adams and I know it doesn’t matter if those boys are playing for Radcliffe or Carlisle United, they’ll be putting the same amount of effort in.

“That’ll be the same with Dev. I know what I’m going to get with him and the huge positives he’ll bring on and off the pitch.

“Bringing in the likes of Dev will only help our younger players too, the likes of Lewis Moore, who can look and see what you have to do to be successful.”

Devitt joins at a time of further progress on the pitch for Reds, who sit fifth in the table after last season’s promotion.

They will this weekend hope to take further steps in the Trophy too.

“Our injuries at the moment are insane – we’re down to the bare bones and there will be quite a few changes at the weekend,” added Grainger.

“I can’t risk players when we have a Tuesday-Saturday-Tuesday-Saturday period coming up. But I’ll still put a team out that I expect to go and get a result.”