Danny is a great worker of the press, isn’t he? In his Friday press conference, he told us there was no money left for a new signing.
I know that was correct, but less than a day later he unveils Aaron Lewis, who went straight into the squad for the game against Rotherham. I know Lewis is playing for free, that’s the message from the club anyway, but in order to have been able to play my understanding is he had to have been registered prior to lunchtime on Friday.
Meaning, as Danny outlined our squad situation, he knew that we already had a new face in the bag. What’s interesting is how low key the signing has been; Lewis has almost be added to the squad as an afterthought, lost in the build-up to the Rotherham game and drowned out by the result.
With him being signed after a trial, Danny has certainly dispelled the myth we discussed on the podcast that he never signs trialists! However, some could be forgiven for thinking Lewis has been signed purely to make up the numbers, a la James Brown last season.
To a degree, that’s the truth. he has been brought in as cover, but the method is better than a loan deal. We’ve looked at Lewis, seen what we like and given him a chance to put himself in the shop window. Don’t be fooled into thinking we’re broke by the way; the transfer budget might have been spent but the quality we have in the side points to us at least having had a few quid to spend.
So, is Aaron Lewis simply a makeweight, or can he put pressure on our existing full backs?
He’s a 21-year-old full back, capable of playing on both sides of the defence but more comfortable as a right back. He’s emerged from the Swansea youth set up, but didn’t make a senior appearance for his parent club. He did appear in the EFL Trophy last season, scoring a 90th-minute winner against Wimbledon. That led to a loan spell with promotion-chasing Doncaster Rovers, where he started seven games. His last outing for Rovers came as they were thumped 4-0 at Luton.
He was released in the summer, which brings us up to the present day. He has Wales honours at Under 21 level and is the sort of prospect you’d expect to see signing a deal in League One after leaving the Liberty Stadium.
We’ve looked at his numbers last season to give you some insight into the player.
Lewis played 10 times last season, three for Swansea Under 21’s and then the seven for Doncaster. Despite being a right back by trade (that’s where he’s played for Wales Under 21s) he played 51% of his matches at left back, bringing that versatility to our squad which Danny covets. In one player, we have cover for two positions. In terms of experience, he’s almost certain to get matches in the Carabao Cup and EFL Trophy.
In his ten matches he had a 70.4% pass accuracy, making 7.72 passes into the final third per game. He’s a forward-thinking full back, who can play in others as well as get into crossing positions himself. He made 3.15 crosses per game, proving his potential as a progrssive wing back joining the attack.
Danny described him as a ‘good one versus one defender’ and that looks accurate from his numbers. He made 3.15 clearances per game as well as 6.74 interceptions. He has a certain reliability in those the numbers that make him perfect for the squad right now. He can block, get forward and do everything expected of a full back, plus he’s young enough to develop and learn more.
The real talking point has to be the short term contract and the mutually beneficial nature of the arrangement.
“He’s worked really hard and he’s a free transfer,” said Danny.
“He’s free in terms of finance and wages. “He’s playing for nothing which shows the kid has a real desire and willingness. He just wants the opportunity.
“Being in the position we’re in, we’re able to give him that. Credit to him because he could’ve signed at a lower level for bigger finance than he’s getting here. But he wants to stay in the Football League and he feels like he belongs there.”
He’s using us as a platform, we’re using him as free labour and in the end, everyone wins. Unless of course he doesn’t play, but Danny will keep to his word. Aaron Lewis will start tomorrow night against Huddersfield and I would imagine will again play three EFL Trophy matches as he did last time out.
Will he make a massive impact on our season? No in terms of being a first team regular, yes in terms of giving us increased peace of mind around the squad depth. The real value will be seen if (heaven forbid) Neal Eardley or Harry Toffolo pick up an injury. Like James Brown, Lee Angol and Adam Crookes last year, only circumstance will now dictate how strong the capture of Aaron Lewis is.
All I would say is we’re a better squad with him than without him, making it a shrewd move and one we should applaud.