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Rice takes leap of faith with Woods signing

Brian Rice has broken his rule of only signing players he has seen in the flesh after a glowing recommendation from former Hamilton midfielder James McArthur.

The Hamilton head coach signed Crystal Palace defender Sam Woods on loan this week following a tip-off from McArthur and other trusted contacts.

The 21-year-old centre-back has joined Accies on loan as a replacement for Sam Stubbs, who was recalled by Middlesbrough before being loaned out to Dutch side ADO Den Haag.

The newcomer could make his debut in Saturday’s Ladbrokes Premiership contest with Livingston.

Rice said: “A couple of people I know knew I was looking for a defender and his name came up to me. I spoke to James McArthur at Crystal Palace and he gave me a glowing report on him and a character reference.

“Then I spoke to three or four people I know down south that have seen him play, and he comes highly recommended.

“It’s very unlike me to sign someone I haven’t seen playing, really unlike me. But all the feedback I have had, and the clips I have watched, he looks a good prospect.

“If you trust the person and have worked with them long enough, you have got to show faith in people at times. I should know that better than anybody else.

“James McArthur trains with him every day and I spoke to other people at Crystal Palace that I know. James says I am getting a great character first and foremost, and a leader, and just someone who deserves a chance and needs to play first-team football.

“He has been on the bench the last six games for Crystal Palace and has made three appearances so he comes with a good pedigree.”

Rice is set to delve further into the transfer market after a double injury blow during Wednesday’s 2-1 defeat by Hibernian.

“The injury situation has got to a stage where I’m going to have to look,” he said. “There’s so many injuries and they are not just short-term.

“It looks as though George Oakley has done his hamstring and Brian Easton has a gash on his foot and had to get stitches. It’s probably going to be a few weeks before they can play.

“I have never known anything like it, it’s probably seven first-team boys who would normally play are out.

“But that’s why we have a squad and that’s why we try to produce young players here, so they are ready, so they can get an opportunity.”