"I think anybody in the stadium that night would’ve seen that the young lad is a really good player"
Paul Lambert says that Town's interest in signing Mark McGuinness stepped up after the EFL Trophy meeting with Arsenal U21 earlier this month.
The 19-year-old signed for Blues on a season-long loan deal on Tuesday.
In the aforementioned fixture, Mark captained the young Gunners side and was a dominant presence in the heart of the defence alongside showing his abilities on the ball.
While Mark's name was already on the radar, the Blues boss admitted that the centre-back impressed him as an away player at Portman Road that evening.
"His name was mentioned a few weeks prior to it," Paul told the Club website. "We had a chance to see him close up when he played against us. I thought he was excellent.
"I think anybody in the stadium that night would’ve seen that the young lad is a really good player. He’s got a big presence about him so I’m really happy.
"He looked a really good leader as well for somebody so young. His no nonsense approach was really good. He’s comfortable on the ball. It’s a good challenge for him to take on and it should be a beneficial loan move for him."
James Wilson and Toto Nsiala have kept two clean sheets in Town's successive victories at the start of the League One campaign.
And while the emphasis this season has been about players keeping the shirt once they have it, Paul says that Mark will add further healthy competition to the existing centre-backs at the Club.
"James and Toto have been absolutely brilliant for us," he continued. "They hold it at the minute. They’re playing really well and Mark knows that which is good.
"Woolfy [Luke Woolfenden] will need to push to get in as well. That’s important that the two lads who are playing at the minute know that they are in good form and playing well but they also know that they have players breathing down their necks to get in the team.
"It’ll raise their game as well, knowing that they have really good players behind them."
Mark's first interview as a Town player is available to watch on iFollow Ipswich.