MANAGER Liam McDonald has said Redditch United will benefit from Omari Sterling-James' switch to Cheltenham Town.

The 20-year-old took his first steps into professional football when he put pen to paper on a six-month deal on Monday after impressing Robins boss Mark Yates during a trial spell.

As part of the deal, United are guaranteed a pre-season friendly against a strong Town side and will be able to use their relationship with the SkyBet League Two side to their advantage in terms of loan players.

Sterling-James' move continues his meteoric rise up the non-league ladder. As a member of Birmingham City's youth scheme he played for Alvechurch and Walsall's reserves but a move to The Saddlers fell through.

The attacker then joined United last season and scored 13 goals as the Reds finished tenth in the Southern Premier.

"I always disappointed to see a good player leave but I am delighted for Omari," said manager Liam McDonald.

"I said to him when we signed him from Alvechurch that he would go onto a Football League club but I think he's actually six months ahead of schedule.

"I am sure he's going to well for Cheltenham and I also believe he could play even higher.

"This is what we're trying to do. I believe that the likes of Jamie Spencer, Jim Mutton, Dan Scar and Leavi Oshungbure will all go onto play in the Football League in the future."

"We've built a good relationship with Cheltenham, although I must stress we are not a feeder club to anyone.

"Cheltenham have agreed to play us in friendly at home next season and bring a strong team.

"We will also have access to loan players and by that I mean guys who will have played in the Football League."

McDonald is keen to stress that last season's top-scorer Jermaine Hylton is not ready for a move into the professional ranks.

Hylton was also on trial at Whaddon Road but the Redditch manager does not want to lose another of his talented group.

He said: "I have had so many calls about Jermaine but I must stress that he has signed a deal and will be playing for us next season.

"There are two clubs from the Football League who are keeping tabs on him and they know that we feel he needs another six months or so of regular football under his belt.

"It should be remembered he had only played one full season, while Omari had played for Birmingham and Alvechurch before joining us.

"Jermaine has really enjoyed his two weeks at Cheltenham but I think he's found it more tiring than anticipated.

"But he knows the situation, is relaxed about it and is 100 per cent committed to Redditch."

Meanwhile, Redditch United have been handed a testing start to the 2014-15 season at home to title favourites Cambridge City on August 9 (3pm ko).