Wednesday 1 February 2023 Dublin: 9°C
Ryan Byrne/INPHO Alfie Lewis of St. Patrick's Athletic (file pic).
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'His performance tonight was exceptional' - The West Ham youngster having a big impact in Irish football
St Patrick’s Athletic are hoping to extend Alfie Lewis’ loan stay at the club.

ST PATRICK’S ATHLETIC earned a big win over Sligo Rovers on Friday that saw them leapfrog Liam Buckley’s side to go second.

One man who has played a key role in their excellent start to the season is Alfie Lewis.

The 21-year-old midfielder was a regular for West Ham in Premier League Two before joining Pat’s on loan at the start of the season.

He has impressed in recent weeks and excelled once more in the 2-0 defeat of the Bit O’Red at Richmond Park.

His current loan deal is due to expire at the end of June, but Alan Mathews confirmed after Friday’s game that the Saints are hoping to extend his stay in Dublin for longer.

“As Stevie [O'Donnell] said the other day, that’s ongoing, that is the case. That’s kind of been parked until Tuesday but we’ve been in consultation with West Ham, we’ve been in consultation with Alfie and his representatives, so we’d be very much trying to keep Alfie because his performance tonight was exceptional.

“He’s very happy here. This is his first year playing senior football and I think he’s grown week-in, week-out, very good in Longford last week, and very good again tonight. He’s made a big contribution to us and we’re very happy to have him and we’ll be working to try and keep him.”

Lewis is not the only player who was on the books at a Premier League club that has impressed for Pat’s this season. Liverpool goalkeeper Vitezslav Jaros has also been instrumental to their success.

“You look at the various means you have,” explains Mathews. “We wouldn’t have the capacity to go look at people [in the flesh], so you’re looking at videos and recommendations, but it’s always a little bit fractured until you get someone in. [Alfie has] been a great fit for us. I wouldn’t say we’ve been fortunate, we’ve done good work and we’ve got good contacts with the players we’ve brought in on loan and hopefully, we can do something to have Alfie here.

“Looking at him and the way he plays, you can see that he’s a midfield player who wants to move and pass the ball. But he’s not afraid to make tackles, to go in and do the scruffy stuff without the ball. It just took him a little while. He’d an injury when he came to us so we had to nurse him through that. We were well aware of that but with West Ham’s help and support we were able to ease him into training and then get him going and he’s staked his claim for a place in the team, he’s gone in and done really well.”

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Asked whether the League of Ireland can be a haven for talented young players such as Jaros and Lewis who are not deemed ready for the Premier League, Mathews adds:

“Hopefully because it’s given those two lads a platform whereby their clubs — I know Alfie has finished his contract there — but whilst he was here, they were very, very happy with him.

“From a Liverpool point of view, they were delighted to extend Vite’s contract with us earlier on, we put that to bed a long time ago.

“They’re getting first-team football in a really good environment, they’re happy with the way they see their progression. They’re looking at the tapes, all the various statistics they get from GPS. They’re putting in the hard yards in training and now they’re getting matches where three points really count. They’re not playing academy games or bounce games as they have in England. They’re playing where there are three points at stake and that’s a big step up for those players and they’ve certainly stepped up to the challenge. [The clubs are] happy with the way the players have progressed and we’re happy to have them and the plan would be to push it if we can.”

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