Joe Lewis on the young guns driving hopes of an Aberdeen resurgence under Stephen Glass

As a goalkeeper, Joe Lewis is well positioned to view the changing composition of the Aberdeen team.

Aberdeen goalkeeper Joe Lewis makes an important late block to deny Ali McCann in Saturday's 1-0 win over St Johnstone in Perth  (Photo by Paul Devlin / SNS Group)
Aberdeen goalkeeper Joe Lewis makes an important late block to deny Ali McCann in Saturday's 1-0 win over St Johnstone in Perth (Photo by Paul Devlin / SNS Group)

On Saturday, he counted six academy graduates on the field at the end of his side’s 1-0 win over St Johnstone. One of the criticisms levelled at Derek McInnes was that he resisted giving youth a chance and it would seem there is nothing wrong with the supply line.

The former manager does deserve some of the credit, as does head of youth Neil Simpson, who is currently helping with first-team duties. Interim manager Paul Sheerin, perhaps emboldened by there being little to lose, has proved particularly eager to blood the new breed – though he would be the first to admit he can hardly take little credit for one of the graduates on the pitch, veteran defender Andrew Considine.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Connor McLennan and Dean Campbell are also established members of the first-team squad. In recent weeks, however, 20-year-old Jack MacKenzie and Calvin Ramsay, 17, have broken through, while 19-year-old midfielder Ethan Ross was a late sub on Saturday.

MacKenzie, who operates at left-back or left wing-back, now looks to have nailed down a place in the side after starting the last two league games (he was cup tied for the Scottish Cup clash v Dumbarton).

He already seems comfortable with Aberdeen’s new tactic of playing out from the back – with Lewis in particular relieved to have several options in front of him as he gets to grips with this more high-risk strategy.

“The centre-halves split and we try and make the pitch as big as possible when in possession,” the 33-year-old goalkeeper explained. “If they want to come and press us, then it’s down to us to be brave in possession. I know that if I get a backpass, I can take a touch and know that I’ve got the angles.”

The talent coming through is one major reason why Lewis believes better times lie ahead under Stephen Glass who is set to begin work as manager this week. Spirits will be high at Cormack Park after the battling win in Perth, courtesy of Jonny Hayes’ second-half strike - Aberdeen's second league goal in 11 outings.

“It was a huge win for so many reasons,” said Lewis. “Obviously, we’re still fighting for third place and we’ll be looking at the Hibsresults and we’ll be trying to put as much pressure on them as we can, but it was also important for the all-round confidence of the team.

“We’ve got a lot of young players. I think we had six academy graduates involved against St Johnstone – Andy (Considine) doesn’t count! – but the other five certainly do.

“You look at Dean and Connor especially, you forget how young they are because they’ve been around for quite a while.”

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“Jack MacKenzie has been fantastic,” he added. “For them to take everything on board that’s been asked and play away from home – on a terrible pitch – the way that they have been asked to, playing out from the back, taking risks and trying to draw them onto us to then get past the press and eliminate some of their players, to do that shows a lot of character and that’s fantastic going forward."

A message from the Editor:Thank you for reading this article. We're more reliant on your support than ever as the shift in consumer habits brought about by Coronavirus impacts our advertisers.If you haven't already, please consider supporting our trusted, fact-checked journalism by taking out a digital subscription



Want to join the conversation? Please or to comment on this article.