The Newcastle United defender drawing Paul Dummett comparisons on loan at National League Hartlepool United
While Freddie Woodman has been earning rave reviews in the Championship, and Florian Lejeune similar in La Liga, another one of Newcastle United’s loan players has been quietly sharpening his tools, under the radar, a little further down the footballing pyramid.
Youngster Lewis Cass is this season playing his first full, senior campaign with North East National League side Hartlepool United – and it’s fair to say the 21-year-old has impressed.
So we asked Hartlepool United writer Dom Scurr, of sister title the Hartlepool Mail, to detail the defender’s 2020/21 campaign so far...
How has the defender performed at Pools?
For the most part, Cass has been reliable and consistent. Pools boast one of the best clean sheet records in the National League and that is no small part down to Cass' surprisingly mature and composed performances at the back given his tender age.
Cass started the season as a right-back and was solid albeit unspectacular but since switching to a right-sided centre-back of a three, he’s looked a lot more comfortable.
What are his main assets?
Cass is a modern day defender. He’s comfortable on the ball and playing out from the back. His experience as a right-back also means he has the ability to threaten when taking the ball out of defence. A perfect example of this was his fine assist for Hartlepool in Saturday's 1-1 draw at Stockport County. Although not the tallest, Cass does possess good aerial ability and always gets stuck in.
What is his best position?
Although he's comfortable as a right back, Cass really looks at home at centre-back on the right of a back three. With more experienced players such as Gary Liddle to the left of him and former Newcastle United full-back Jamie Sterry on the right, Cass has been able to thrive as part of a formidable back five unit.
Does he have any weaknesses that need worked on?
As a right-back, Cass is limited on the attacking front. While he has a good crossing ability, he's not the type of player to beat his man with pace of skill. If you want a comparison, think Paul Dummett but on the opposite side.
Defensively, Cass' positioning, concentration and decision making has been called into question at times but that’s to be expected from a young player. He’s already improved considerably in those areas over the course of the campaign.
How ready is the player to step up at Newcastle United?
Given that he's still yet to finish his first proper season in professional football, a step up to Newcastle United's first team seems premature in my opinion.
The jump from National League to Premier League or even Championship is huge in terms of the intensity and quality.
However, the physical nature of the fifth tier along with Pools' attractive style of play will undoubtedly bode well for Cass in the long run.
What does the future likely hold for Cass?
I think the next step for Cass would be another loan move to an EFL club. Should Hartlepool get promoted, another season at Victoria Park would be an ideal option.
Cass is certainly one for the future but requires another season or two of regular EFL matches, maybe in League Two or even League One, under his belt first.