KEITH Curle feels Harrison McGahey has already proved he is a vital piece in Oldham Athletic’s jigsaw.

The defender has had to wait patiently for his Latics debut, after the contract he signed in the summer was disputed by the English Football League under the terms of the club’s monitored loan agreement.

Coincidentally, McGahey picked up a pre-season injury which ruled him out of action anyway until earlier this month.

Ongoing re-negotiations reached a conclusion last week, with McGahey finally able to make his bow against his former club, Rochdale, on Saturday.

And Curle feels it is no coincidence that Latics secured the derby bragging rights with a hard fought 1-0 win, with McGahey at the heart of a defence that earned back-to-back clean sheets in League Two.

“I think people can see why we made a decision not to start anyone else or one of the younger players because we wanted him (McGahey) to be named in the squad," said Curle, who would not have been able to field the defender if they had reached their squad cap before the new deal was done.

"His maturity, his performance, his decision making give us that extra little bit we've been looking for.

"When you're putting a jigsaw puzzle together every piece is important. It's not just the corner pieces, it's every single piece, otherwise you find when you get to the end the puzzle's not complete."

Curle has been encouraged by the last two league outings but added: "We're still a work in progress, still a lot of work to be done, still a lot of players to become available."