By David Williams
Joe Allen’s know-how will prove a vital asset for Swansea City this coming season, head coach Russell Martin has insisted.
Allen could make the second Swansea debut of his career on Tuesday night in a pre-season game at Plymouth Argyle, a full 15 years after his first.
The Wales midfielder, who last week sealed a return to his boyhood club from Stoke City, was part of the Swans squad that clinched promotion to the Premier League in 2008 and Martin reckons that kind of experience will prove invaluable, alongside the playing abilities that still make him a virtual certain starter for his country.
“Joe has real experience at this level, and he also has real experience of this football club and understands what it’s about and what it stands for, what has got it success in the past and he himself has had success here,” said Martin.
“He is going to really help us and the young players, it’s such a positive signing.”
“It’s a brilliant signing for us as a group, but also for the club and the supporters.
“It’s also a great signing for the players and staff in the building, for performances on the pitch and for culture off the pitch.
Love Joe Allen, brilliant bloke and player. Let’s be honest Swansea should have brought him home six years ago. Major mistake 🦢
— Phil Blanche (@philblanche) July 8, 2022
“Predominantly it comes down to performance on the pitch, because he’s a fantastic footballer. He is a real leader in his own way.”
The 32-year-old Allen, who grew up in Narberth, has headed back to his first club on a two-year deal having previously made 150 senior appearances for the Swans after coming through the academy to make his debut aged 16.
The former pupil at Ysgol y Preseli in Crymych went on to join Liverpool in 2012 – following manager Brendan Rodgers from Swansea to Anfield – before moving to Stoke City, where he became captain.
He left the Potters when his contract expired at the end of last season, having made 221 appearances and scored 20 goals.
He has also been capped 72 times by Wales, helping his country reach the 2022 World Cup in Qatar – their first appearance in the tournament since 1958.
Despite a return to Swansea being mooted on a couple of occasions since he left, Allen has waited patiently to don the white shirt once again.
Nice to see Joe Allen back at Swansea City . This is the programme from his debut back in 2007 .⚽️🖤🤍🦢🦢🦢. pic.twitter.com/4Z3vgSOS7X
— Clare Lewis (@acl1973latte) July 8, 2022
Martin added: “He (Joe) loves it here – it’s home,” he said. “He’s said how excited his family have been to come back and how excited he’s been and hopeful that it would come off.
“Joe has been so patient in waiting, we’ve been in discussions for a long time, we’ve been in contact for a long time. He’s a brilliant human being, a brilliant person and I’m really grateful he’s been patient.
“He’s been our number one target all along and we’ve got him. I think he realises that it’s a style of play that really suits him, it’s something he wants to be part of again.
“He’s come back because he feels he can really contribute to something that’s moving in the right direction. It’s great to see him so happy and I think it’s given everyone else a real boost as well.”
The Swans face Argyle on Tuesday evening as they continue their preparations for the 2022-23 season, with the fixture set to be the Swans’ first friendly in front of fans this campaign.
“I think it will be great, I think we’re all looking forward to it,” said Martin.
“It’s really important for a number of reasons, we’ll be travelling and getting used to that again, being in a hotel and looking how to utilise the time for the players in the best way for the players to be ready for the game.
“We’re looking forward to seeing some of our supporters and it will be another really tough game.
“It will be against a team who try and play so it’s going to bring us another challenge, but it’s about just stepping up every game, improving what we’re doing and making sure we learn from every game.”