Development is the target set down for Lewis Simper this season at Cambridge United
Mark Bonner is looking for Lewis Simper to develop and push for a starting place at Cambridge United this season.
The 20-year-old started in midfield as the U’s beat Millwall 1-0 in the Carabao Cup, first round in midweek, and it is likely that the cup competitions will give the academy product the best opportunity for minutes this campaign.
“He is a good footballer, left-footed central midfield players there are not so many of, and has a nice passing range,” said the U’s head coach.
“He’s got lots to improve, lots to do still but he’s in a really good position. He’s had some good games in pre-season, he brings a nice control with the ball, he’s got a good range of pass and he’s a player we really like and think well of.
“We’re really pleased to see him as part of the squad and just consider him one of the first-team players now.
“His aim for the season is to try to chalk up as many games as he can. It’s similar to Ben Worman last season, we want the same sort of outcome for Lewis this season.
“Cup competitions is an obvious way of building those match minutes and experiences, but his task is to push to be ready to compete in the league team as well.”
Simper was out on loan with Concord Rangers last season, while Ben Worman spent the campaign with the U’s.
With Bonner having already stated that Worman will be going out on loan, it would be easy to presume that Simper is now ahead in the pecking order.
However, that is not the case and it is just a question of finding the right development for each player - after all, they are both still only 20, with their birthdays four days apart, with Worman in August and Simper in September which would have put the former a school year ahead.
“Lewis is definitely more of a central midfield player in a deeper position than Ben, who is better higher up the pitch,” said Bonner.
“Ben's position for us in central midfield has been very good when we’ve played with one deep one and two more advanced ones - away to Doncaster and Morecambe [last season] he did brilliantly.
“It’s more of a natural position for Lewis to play in that two central midfield players than it is for Ben.
“We’re always looking back at a period of the pandemic with young professionals that they missed a lot of football in that period of time, and last year was an excellent one for Ben because he probably made 20-plus appearances in the first team.
“In order for him to keep moving forward, he’s got to keep playing. At the moment, he’s not going to get that run of games with us.
“Lewis can fill in and around those bits and pieces when the chances come up, and get that experience with us, while Ben goes and gets a run of games somewhere.
“The sooner we can sort that for him the better, because he needs to be playing in order to keep that development right, whereas Lewis just needs to be around us as often as possible and taking advantage of those game minutes.”
He added: “Development looks different for everyone and everyone’s plan is different at different moments but I think that is the right way for us at the moment and the right way for both of those boys.”