FRENCH defender Julian Cherel plans to use Northwich Victoria as a springboard back to a career in the Football League.

The 27-year-old made his debut at the heart of Vics’ backline in their FA Trophy second qualifying round cruise against Glapwell on Saturday.

“We’ve had to work very, very hard to get him here,” said manager Andy Preece.

“He feels he is capable of playing at a much higher level but we’ve persuaded him that he can get back there by playing well for Northwich.”

Cherel had a brief stay at Blue Square Bet Premier club Mansfield Town earlier this month following a trial with League Two outfit Oldham Athletic.

The Caen-born stopper arrived in England last year, signing initially for Hartlepool United in September.

His arrival solves a problem in defence for Preece, who is still without long-term absentees Matthew Brown (groin) and Steve Woods (calf) through injury.

On-loan Ferenc Fodor was not available to face Glapwell, but teenager Keil O’Brien made his first start for a month after shaking off a hamstring strain.