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Toronto FC signs on-loan English defender Richard Eckersley

Toronto FC's Richard Eckersley, right, and Real Esteli FC's Manuel Rosas battle for the ball during the first half of a CONCACAF Champions League soccer match in Toronto

Darren Calabrese/The Canadian Press

Toronto FC has signed defender Richard Eckersley, who had previously been on loan to the MLS team from England's Burnley.

The 22-year-old Eckersley joined Toronto last April and saw action in 23 matches, starting 22 of them.

"Signing Richard was a very high off-season priority, our team has worked tirelessly to ensure he would be returning," Toronto FC head coach Aron Winter said in a statement Thursday. "This signing represents another successful step in our off-season progress as a club. Richard is an important player for our club."

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Eckersley began his youth career at Manchester United and made two appearances with the senior side. He was also part of Manchester United's League Cup-winning side against Tottenham in March 2009.

Eckersley signed a four-year contract with Burnley in July 2009 and went on separate loan deals to Plymouth Argyle, Bradford City and Bury before coming to Canada.

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