The 25-year-old was unveiled as the Sulphurites’ eighth new signing of the summer on Wednesday having penned a two-year deal at Wetherby Road following his release by League Two rivals Colchester United.
Harrogate finished 2021/22 with the joint-second-worst defensive record in the division, prompting Weaver to really shake things up as far as his back-line is concerned.
And in Welch-Hayes, he is confident that he has found a player who has both the attributes and, most significantly, the mentality to help Town become tougher to break down.
“We’ve tracked Miles for a while and it was a conversation with Jaheim Headley’s agent, who also represents Miles, that prompted us to have another really close look at his footage again this week,” Weaver told the Harrogate Advertiser.
“He really does tick all the boxes as far as we are concerned. He’s a gritty defender, he can play right-back or centre-back, he’s got good height at 6ft 1”, he’s tough, very quick and a real athlete.
“He’s also a lively character and a leader-type, but the main thing about Miles is the fact that he loves defending, that’s his best quality. It’s not all about playing out from the back with him, although he’s capable of doing that as well.
“He is a player who doesn’t like getting beaten by his man, he’s about stopping crosses and keeping it tight down his side of the pitch.
“We conceded too many goals last season to be successful, we have to try and learn our lessons and to do that we need the likes of Miles to come in.”
Welch-Hayes spent the previous two-and-a-half seasons at Colchester, where he made a half-century of appearances, the majority coming during the 2021/22 campaign as he helped a struggling U’s outfit retain their EFL status.
He is closing in on 100 appearances in League Two having featured for Macclesfield between 2018 and 2020 prior to his stint in Essex.
The Oxford-born defender started his career at Oxford United, making his League One debut in August 2016 before signing for Bath City, where his performances earned him a place in the 2017/18 National League South Team of the Year.
Welch-Hayes has been handed the number two shirt.