With Sandro Tonali banned for the remainder of the 2023/24 season, a lot of talk leading up to the January transfer window has centered around our search for a short-term replacement.
Loan moves for Ruben Neves and Kalvin Phillips appear to be under serious consideration, but recent comments from Dan Ashworth and Eddie Howe suggest we may already have someone capable of filling in – Lewis Miley.
The 17-year-old was our best outfield player in his first Premier League start at Bournemouth last weekend and also looked assured off the bench in that 2-0 defeat at Borussia Dortmund.
When asked about the Tonali situation and our search for a solution, Ashworth said this to the press:
“We’ve got a number of things we can do. It might not be a like-for-like replacement for Sandro. It could be a player who can play in a different position or multiple positions.
“It could be that young Lewis Miley gets more minutes and comes to the fore over the coming weeks. We might look in a different area of the pitch. But obviously it is a blow losing Sandro. He was one of our big signings in a key area of the pitch.
“He was going to be one of our most influential players so we have to do everything in our power to make sure the squad is as competitive as possible going into the second half of the season. We do have a little bit of flexibility and we are able to look at the market. But there are lots of ways to do it.”
Eddie Howe has also hailed the teenager, having this to say in an interview with Sky Sports last week:
“He’s a big talent. Very calm, composed for such a young player. You wouldn’t know that he’s still 17 in the way that he conducts himself – he acts like a senior pro.
“He’s really composed, really good technically – a good athlete, a good size. He has a little bit of everything and we really like him.
“I’m reluctant to put too much pressure on him at this stage of his career, but the signs look really good.”
The last line suggests Howe may opt against putting too much responsibility on Miley over the second half of the season, but if we’re blocked from signing Neves on loan and can’t agree a loan deal with Man City’s Kalvin Phillips, we might just settle on Bruno, Joelinton, Willock, Longstaff, Anderson and Miley and strengthen elsewhere?