Wolverhampton Wanderers loanee Lewis Richards 'exactly what we need', says Harrogate Town boss Simon Weaver
"Exactly what we need" was Simon Weaver's verdict on Wolverhampton Wanderers loanee Lewis Richards.
The 20-year-old Premier League defender has joined the League Two Sulphurites until the end of the season and is available to make his debut against Newport County on Saturday afternoon.
He became the club's fourth signing of the January transfer window following the arrival of promising Huddersfield Town midfield duo Brahima Diarra and Josh Austerfield and veteran centre-half Leon Legge.
And while the latter was brought in as a direct replacement for the outgoing Connor Hall, the influx of bodies in recent weeks means that Harrogate's squad now has a healthier look about it.
"Lewis is exactly what we needed in terms of making our unit stronger," Weaver said.
"The fact that he can play as a left-sided centre-half or a left-back and be genuinely comfortable in either position is ideal, and, in addition, just like Leon, he adds a bit of extra physicality.
"He isn't your typical under-23s player. You look at his frame, he's a big, powerful unit and, as I keep saying, in League Two you have to be able to win the war and earn the right to play.
"I think when you look at our team in the tunnel now, with the likes of Leon and Lewis, we'll be a different proposition. I think these players will add an extra dimension.
"Also, we've been short on numbers in recent matches. We've not been able to fill the bench, so we'll be in a much better position moving forwards."
Richards, who joined Wolves from Brentford aged 15, has featured for the Molineux club's under-21s in the Papa John’s Trophy for the past three seasons and has also represented Ireland at under19 and under-21 level.
He promoted to Wolves' first team in the 2019/20 season and was then awarded a new contract in July 2020, after featuring in match-day squads for Europa League ties against both of Besiktas and Sevilla.
He was then regularly included in Nuno Espirito Santo's match-day squads throughout the 2020/21 Premier League campaign.
This season, Richards has featured in the Papa John’s Trophy for Wolves’ under-21s, helping them keep a clean-sheet against League One Wigan Athletic.
"He's a defender who sticks to his task and is good at problem-solving," Weaver added.
"He gets out there and gets tight to attackers, stops crosses and, because he's a powerful lad, he comes out the other side of challenges with the ball.
"He really is comfortable either on the left of a back-three, as a left-sided centre-half or at left-back.
"We're very pleased to be able to bring him here."