By Gareth James
Swansea City head coach Michael Duff has revealed he gained a glowing report from England defender Kieran Trippier before moving for Newcastle United’s Harrison Ashby.
Ashby will finalise a loan move on Friday and the Magpies’ wing-back is in line to make his debut for the Swans in their opening Championship match of the season at home to Birmingham City on Saturday.
The 21-year-old – who moved from West Ham to Newcastle 18 months ago for £3m – will sign on a season-long loan and become Duff’s sixth new face following the arrival of Josh Key, Josh Ginnelly, Jerry Yates, Carl Rushworth and Mykola Kukharevich.
Duff revealed he had taken soundings over Ashby from Newcastle skipper Trippier.
“I spoke to Kieran Trippier about him, because I know Tripps really well,” said Duff.
“He was really positive in terms of his character reference.
“He has been in for a couple of days and we think he’s a good player – a powerful player, who does both parts of the game well.
“He can get in the top third and deliver crosses, but he’s also a good defender which is first and foremost the most important thing.
“He’s a good player who has come through at West Ham and then Newcastle. I think he got a bit frustrated at West Ham because they wouldn’t let him out on loan, but he didn’t get enough game time.
“I liked him last year at my last club. He was keen to get it done, which was great because he could have just sat at a Premier League club and hidden behind the badge.
“But he wanted to get out and get game time.”
— Swansea City Online (@SwanseaCityLive) August 3, 2023
The arrival of Ashby will mean the Swans team expected to start the season on Saturday will be markedly different from the side that ended the last campaign under Russell Martin.
Three or four of those new faces could make the starting 11, although striker Joel Piroe – who seemed destined to leave this summer – is likely to lead the line up front.
Diff confirmed that the club has received no concrete offers for the Dutchman, who they value at around £15m.
“I’ve had conversations with Joel, there’s been no bids,” added Duff.
“Until there’s a bid, he’s our player. He’s been absolutely top-drawer the way he’s gone about it all.”
But even if Piroe stays, Duff has stressed he is still seeking to strengthen his squad before the closure of the transfer window.
“I don’t think I’m breaking any secrets, I think we need a left-sided player,” he added.
“That’s something we’re looking for. It’s not a case of we haven’t been looking. We have been trying. That has been a frustrating one.
“We’re still looking to be active for a couple more.”
Championship side Swansea City are expected to complete the loan signing of Harrison Ashby from Newcastle Utd for their season opener vs Birmingham City on Saturday.
— Everything Scotland (@AboutScotlandd) July 31, 2023
Swansea are not among many pundits’ tips for promotion this season – even via the play-offs, but their head coach is reluctant to set any objectives, publically.
“We want to be competitive, I am not a big one for making predictions. Everyone will be saying the same thing at the start of the season, let’s try and win the first couple of games, and then see where are after 10 games,” he said.
“That’s not me being negative, I think this is going to be the most competitive Championship season for a long time.
“If you look at the league, some big teams have come into it, who are well-supported financially.
“It is going to be very competitive, and that is what we want to be. We want to work week to week, win every half of football and see where we end up.
“That’s just the way I work. I don’t really like making predictions. I don’t want to talk about it, you just do it.”
— BBC Sport Wales (@BBCSportWales) August 2, 2023