Toshack praises quartet over new deals
Cameron Toshack has praised the quartet of Swansea City Under-23s players who recently signed new contracts at the club.
Joe Lewis, Ben Cabango and Jordon Garrick all penned two-year deals that will keep them with the Swans until 2021, while Cameron Berry signed a 12-month extension to his existing contract.
Toshack is delighted to have all four tied down in South Wales and is looking forward to seeing their development.
“We’re really pleased with each of them,” the under-23s coach said.
“They’re a great bunch of guys that want to learn and are focused on their careers and improving every day which, as a coach, makes the job a lot easier. When that happens, you get your rewards more often than not.
“It is a very big step-up from under-18s and under-23s football, where you’re a professional, in and around the first-team environment and playing against League One and League Two players in the Checkatrade Trophy, as well as some of the elite youngsters in Europe at this level.
“Within the next six months to a year, we’re hopeful they will all make great strides towards their ambition of playing regular first-team football somewhere.”
Lewis, who signed his first professional contract last summer, has been a regular feature since linking up with the under-23s – making 21 appearances in all competitions.
The Neath-born centre-back’s displays were recognised when he was shortlisted for September’s Premier League 2 player of the month award, and he has since continued to produce consistent performances.
“Joe deserves a lot of credit for the manner in which he’s applied himself,” Toshack said.
“Those player of the month nominations aren’t easy to come by. They’re voted for by opposing coaches, so it’s clear that he’s making an impact and proving his worth.
“Whenever teams come up against us, he’s highlighted as a key defensive area where it’s difficult to end.
“There’s no reason why he can’t push on and become even better towards the end of the season.”
Lewis’ fellow centre-half Cabango also signed a two-year extension shortly after returning from his successful loan spell with TNS in the first half of the season.
The 18-year-old was a regular presence in the heart of defence, while he also represented the club in the Champions League and Europa League qualifying rounds.
“The rationale when sending Ben out on loan was for him to experience men’s football,” Toshack explains.
“He’s ticked the box in that sense and, now that he’s back with us, we need to work very hard on his tactical understanding and technical ability to improve him as an all-round player.
“Hopefully, he’ll be pushing for a first-team place in the near future.”
Garrick was the other player to pen a new two-year deal with the Swans.
The winger, who joined the club in November 2015, saw his consistent displays rewarded with a first-team call-up last December, when he was the 19th man for the trip to Derby.
And Toshack admits it has been a pleasure to witness his progress.
“As a staff and an Academy, we’re really pleased to see Jordon’s progression,” he said. “He was a bit of a rough diamond when he first joined the club.
“His attributes have always been his pace and aggression, but he now understands the game a lot better as he’s developed and matured as a person and player.
“We’re hopeful it won’t be long before he’s involved in that first-team set-up again.”
Meanwhile, Berry has extended his stay with the Swans for another year.
The midfielder, who has been at the club since the age of nine, has endured a frustrating battle with injuries that has limited him to just a single appearance this season.
Nevertheless, Toshack insists he has seen enough to suggest the 18-year-old has a bright future in SA1.
“Cameron’s had a lot of misfortune with injuries over the past two years,” he concluded.
“However, the quality he’s shown in the time he’s spent with us certainly warrants another year.
“We’re looking forward to working with him and watching his development.”
All four players will be looking to feature on Tuesday, when the young Swans face Wolves in their final group game of this season’s Premier League Cup.