BARROW AFC have pulled off a ‘transfer coup’ after strengthening their forward line with the signing of Football League front-man Ashley Grimes.

The 28-year-old was last night set to pen a two-year deal at Holker Street, with the option for a one-year extension.

Grimes was at Giant Axe for Barrow’s third pre-season friendly of the summer against Lancaster City, having been part of the training squad at the city’s university this week and having passed a medical.

“It’s a good coup for the football club,” said Barrow boss Darren Edmondson, who at the weekend also completed deals for Steve Williams and Paddy Lacey.

“He played a lot of games last year for Walsall and at Bury and Rochdale the years before and his goal record has been good. I’m hoping he will bring us goals. His record is very good and he is a quality player in that position.

“He’s the type of player we want in the forwards.

“Last year, we brought Andy Cook down a level, Jason Walker, other players like Danny Livesey and Andy Haworth.

“What we’re trying to do this year is keep that nucleus and add some more quality to it and Ashley does that.

“If you want to have a chance of being in the shake-up at the end of the season in this league, you’ve got to have quality goal-scorers.

“Cooky is looking very well at the moment, Jason Walker has come back very sharp, so to add another quality body in the front line is what we were looking for.”

Grimes has extensive Football League experience, having been in the professional game since 2007.

A Manchester United youth player, he has had spells with Swindon Town, Millwall, Lincoln City, Bury and Walsall, though he played the bulk of his league games at Rochdale, where he made 74 appearances and scored 18 goals.

His most prolific spell was on loan at Lincoln from Millwall, scoring 15 goals in 27 games.

The Mancunian joins Walker and Cook as out-and-out strikers in the AFC squad, with the likes of Andy Haworth and Dan Pilkington providing support from the flanks and attacking midfielder Lewis Guy among those on trial in pre-season.

Edmondson recognised the need to recruit more on the striker-front and elsewhere in the squad, and added: “All over the team, we have always been looking to add quality to it and I think we have continued to do that.

“If you are going to add to a squad of players and have a large squad, then you have to add quality, as opposed to quantity.”

The third year of Grimes’ deal will be activated based on appearances in the second season, with Barrow retaining the option to keep him, rather than the player himself deciding if he wants to stay.

Barrow continue to monitor a number of triallists, with several featuring against Lancaster last night, through pre-season.

They head to Harrogate Town on Saturday and Chorley on Wednesday, before returning to Cumbria for an away match at Workington on Saturday, July 25.

The new National League season kicks off on Saturday, August 8, when Barrow will host Dover Athletic on the newly-relaid pitch at Holker Street. That fixture is followed by two tough away games, facing Grimsby Town on the Tuesday and Forest Green on the Saturday.