Former Torquay United defender Ed Palmer has joined Southern League Premier side Kettering Town on a one-year deal. Palmer was released by the Gulls in May and had been without a club until signing on the dotted line at Nene Park on Monday.

The 20-year-old centre-back becomes new Kettering manager John Beck’s first signing after the boss best known for his spell in charge of Cambridge in the early 1990s was appointed Poppies chief two weeks ago.

Palmer (left) is happy to have joined Kettering

Palmer failed to make a first-team appearance for Torquay but enjoyed loan spells at non-league sides Weymouth and Truro City after graduating from United’s youth academy in 2010. Clearly pleased to have hooked up with one of the bigger clubs in the Southern League, Palmer said “[I’m] happy and excited to be joining Kettering. Can’t wait for [the] season to start now!” after the deal was completed.

Palmer’s signing at Kettering matches Torquay manager Martin Ling’s prediction for the youngster: on releasing Ed, Ling said “Ed has got ability and did very well down at Truro. I feel that he can play Conference South or Conference level but hasn’t quite got enough for me at this moment in time.”

The Totnes-born defender may well benefit from a season’s playing time at a club three divisions below Torquay, and given Kettering’s financial worries – the club finished bottom of the Conference National last season amid crippling debts of £1.2 million – Palmer is likely to be one of the Poppies’ first-choice centre-backs – manager Beck will not have the funds to employ a large squad.