Join the fan club - Norwich City's young full-backs are 'something special' says Sky pundit
Norwich City's young full-backs, Jamal Lewis and Max Aarons, are "something special".
Sky Sports pundit Andy Hinchcliffe - himself a former full-back – has been impressed with the pair of them.
“To have one young full-back of that talent at your disposal is one thing, but to have a pair of them is extremely unusual,” he said, ahead of the televised clash between City and Birmingham at Carrow Road on Friday night.
“As a former full-back myself I am always looking out for them and these two are something special.
“The vitally important thing for them is they are already playing regular games at such a young age. It was something I did but it is not as normal now. Youngsters are playing a lot more academy football and can be 21 or 22 before they get into the first teams and beyond.
These two have proved they are physically strong enough and are both the perfect build for the modern full-back job, while they also have shown they are mentally strong enough as well.”
Lewis is 20, Aarons just 19 – and Hinchcliffe says their style suits the modern game.
“The amount of ground you have to cover getting forward and backwards has changed dramatically in the last 20 years,” he said.
“Full-backs used to be converted centre-halves but they are getting smaller and leaner to suit the job they have to do. They certainly aren’t the shape I was!
“When I was playing I wasn’t being asked to cover the same ground these guys are. They are having to cover 50 yards to get into positions, whereas I had a midfielder in front of me who did that job, and I would only have to run 10 yards to recover. Those are the demands now and you need to have the abilities to do it.
“We were stockier and defenders by trade. I played in a 4-4-2 alongside a centre-back and I had a midfielder in front of me who did the forward stuff. Maybe I would get up on the overlap but my main job was defensive.
“They are absolute machines in terms of getting up and down the pitch in terms of athleticism and dynamism. It is not a surprise they are standing out.
“The two of them are essentially playing as wing-backs in a back four, which takes a lot of doing. They are playing ahead of their centre-halves and the amount of ground they have to cover is huge.”