Phil Parkinson has bolstered his defensive options with an 'absolute colossus' after signing Wales under-19 centre-back Billy Sass-Davies on loan for the rest of the season.
The Altrincham manager closely monitored Sass-Davies' progress through the youth ranks at Crewe but admitted he was still taken aback by the teenager's imposing physical presence when he faced the Robins a month ago as the cornerstone of FC United of Manchester's defence.
Sass-Davies was on loan at Broadhurst Park at the time, and when his agreement there came to an end, Parkinson seized his opportunity to wrap up a deal he views as a significant breakthrough in Alty's quest to secure a play-off place.
Though he only turned 19 last month, the giant defender has already shown an assurance that could prove crucial during a nine-game run-in that includes fixtures with Brackley Town, Kidderminster Harriers, AFC Telford United and Chorley, as well as a testing trip to York City on Saturday.
'I'm delighted we have managed to get Billy here from Crewe on a youth loan for the rest of the season,' said Parkinson. 'It is great news, because I'm under no illusions about the next run of games, and how tough they are going to be, and I was concerned that if someone picked up an injury at the back, we only had the two centre-halves, in Tom Hannigan and James Jones.
'Ben Harrison is kicking a ball but isn't there yet, and I wouldn't want to hang my hopes on him being able to step in at the moment. So, it really is an important signing, and Billy will strengthen us.
'He is a big, strong, commanding centre-half, and I just thought he was an absolute colossus when he faced us for FC United. I've known about him for a number of years after following his progress at Crewe, but I didn't recognise him to begin with at Broadhurst Park, because he has grown and developed physically so much.
'I thought he was a constant threat to our chances of winning the game in both boxes that day. He dominated his area and looked like he was going to score at every set-piece they had near our box.
'He is someone who could really give us a boost, going into the back end of the season. I think we are going to need that, because we have got some big teams coming up.
'We will do well to get through all those unscathed, without any injuries, and I don't really want to be putting Jake Moult at centre-half, unless I absolutely have to. That is something that has been at the back of my mind, and Billy's arrival should mean we can avoid that disruption.
'If you cast your mind back to last season, we had Simon Richman filling in at right-back for a long spell and Connor Hampson switching to centre-half. We got away with it, but we won't at this level, I don't think. That's why it was important to bring someone in, and we're delighted to have Billy here.'
Abergele-born Sass-Davies signed professional terms with Crewe in July, 2017 and made his first-team debut the following month, aged 17, in an EFL Trophy tie against Newcastle United under-21s at Gresty Road.
He had temporary spells with Colwyn Bay and Leek Town before joining FC United on loan on January 11th and immediately making his mark with a man-of-the-match performance on his debut the next day in a shock 3-2 win at Bradford (Park Avenue) that halted a sequence of four straight defeats for the Moston side.
Capped several times for Wales under-19s since making his debut for them against Iceland in September, 2017, he has joined Alty in time for Saturday's game with York City at Bootham Crescent, and everyone at Altrincham wishes him a happy and successful time at The J.Davidson Stadium.