Why Hibs could have themselves a real gem in new signing Lewis Miller
There is one big caveat and a couple of concerns we’ll get to later, but if he’s handled the right way and settles into life in Scotland, Lewis Miller could be somebody Hibs fans absolutely adore.
The 21-year-old right-back joined the Easter Road club on Thursday after agreeing to a three-year-deal following an excellent campaign with Central Coast Mariners. The A-League side, oddly enough, also sold Miller’s ex-teammate Kye Rowles to Hibs’ arch-rivals Hearts on the same day.
The Australian is as committed as they come. He’s big for a full-back and not afraid to use that frame, whether it’s throwing it around the pitch or using it smartly to block off opponents.
He likes to engage fellow attackers, averaging 8.47 defensive duels per 90 minutes last season and 1.09 slide tackles. Compared to the 40 most used full-backs in last season’s cinch Premiership, Miller would rank seventh and second in those categories, respectively. He’d also be second for successful attacking actions (behind only new club-mate Chris Cadden), third for interceptions and seventh for defensive duel success. He’s also very good in the air for a full-back, winning 62.5 per cent of his aerial challenges.
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But he’s far from just a brusier at the back. As much as he loves bodying forwards, he also likes to act the part himself by charging down the wing and even getting into the opposition penalty box regularly. Despite his size, he shows no fear in trying to dribble past defenders and will happily charge forward to take the ball from A to B quickly.
Furthermore, with a 36.76 success rate he’s also a pretty strong crosser of the ball. This creative side extends to his forward passing ability as, again compared with the stats from last season’s full-backs in Scotland’s top flight, he’d be in the top six for Expected Assists (xA), through balls attempted, through ball percentage and successful passes into the penalty box.
He isn’t without flaws. He’s not the most nimble of full-backs. There isn’t much pace to speak of and he’s got a slow first step, which can allow an advancing winger to get a yard in which to deliver a cross or try to motor around him, though the latter is a bit more difficult due to Miller’s strength.
He can also be a little overcommitted at times, diving in at areas of the pitch where it isn’t necessarily and potentially leaving a lot of space to attack behind him. Also, his shooting percentage is abysmal so he should stick to setting up others rather than going himself when he gets into the box.
And going back to the aforementioned caveat: all these statistics come from playing in the A-League. How will it transfer to Scottish football? It is undoubtedly a step up in class and a very different kind of game. He should definitely suit the physicality, but will he handle the pace?
A lot of his attacking numbers are fairly similar to Nathaniel Atkinson at Hearts. Now, Atkinson is good, but in Australia he was man-of-the-match in the Grand Final before leaving for Edinburgh. He’s not that level of quality over here.
Yet, overall, Miller has a lot of positives going for him and has great potential. Hibees should be excited to see him in action.