Mansfield Town pip promotion rivals Exeter City at the 11th hour to Willem Tomlinson’s signature

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Mansfield Town put one over on League Two promotion rivals Exeter City with last night’s capture of young all-action Blackburn Rovers midfielder Willem Tomlinson.

Tomlinson, 21, had been training with Exeter and it was expected he would sign for the Grecians after agreeing a short term deal down there, despite interest from a host of other League One and League Two clubs.

However, Mansfield swooped at the 11th hour and he signed an 18-month deal to join Stags’ promotion push.

Fans found out the news late last night when Stags CEO Carolyn Radford posted on social media: “Exeter to sign former Rovers midfielder Tomlinson – I don’t think so #fakenews. Huge welcome to Mansfield Town Willem Tomlinson!”

The move ends his 10-year stay at Blackburn who had told him he needed to leave for the sake of his own career.

Tomlinson made seven appearances in all competitions for Blackburn last season, but his only outing this term had been a late cameo in the EFL Cup against Lincoln in August.

He was made available as a free agent by mutual consent after having his contract terminated prior to transfer deadline day.

Writing on social media, he said: “After an amazing 10 years at Rovers I am leaving the club.

“I would like to thank the club, staff and fans for all the support they have given me over the 10 years – I have learned a lot and together created some unforgettable memories.

“I am now looking forward to the next stage of my career and can’t wait to get going.”

Tomlinson made his Rovers debut in the FA Cup fifth round defeat to Manchester United in February 2017, before featuring in the Championship win over Derby.

Although a regular for the U23s in their title-winning campaign last season, he has featured just once since November for Damien Johnson’s side.