STEVE Claridge has taken his summer signing tally to seven after swooping for Oxford United defender Dave Waterman.

The 27-year-old last night penned a three-year deal with Weymouth after rejecting a new contract to stay with the Coca Cola League Two outfit.

The former Northern Ireland international is set to make his Terras debut tomorrow when his new club host AFC Bournemouth in a pre-season friendly (3pm).

And Claridge, who played with Waterman at Portsmouth, admits he's 'over the moon' the Channel Islander has agreed to drop two divisions into the Conference South.

He told Echosport: "I've been tracking Dave for over six months now because he is somebody who is a very good defender and was very solid when we were at Portsmouth together.

"I worked very hard trying to persuade him to come down but, to be honest, had pretty much given up any hope of getting him once Oxford offered him a new deal.

"But when I got the call from Dave

saying he wanted to join us, I was surprised but at the same time delighted.

"He is somebody who has plenty of league games under his belt and has all the qualities needed to succeed, especially at Conference South level.

"Dave is not the biggest guy in the world but he is strong, quick and solid and can also play in the holding role in midfield. As a manager you cannot ask for any more - I'm delighted."

Oxford's former players' player of the year joined the Kassam Stadium outfit in 2002 from Pompey where he made almost 100 first team appearances.

The Hampshire-based player soon became a first team regular and made 37 league starts in two years before his young son Oakley developed cancer.

"Dave is at a time in his life when he understandably wants to put his family ahead of a full-time football career," Claridge said.

"He wants to play somewhere nearer to home and at a level allowing him the necessary time to be with his son."