Lewis Warrington on his Everton future, Frank Lampard sacking, Sean Dyche and the perfect loan
Everton loanee Lews Warrington gives the lowdown on his loan spell at Fleetwood Town.
With a twinkle in his eye and a smile on his face, Lewis Warrington couldn’t hide his delight when discussing his loan spell at Fleetwood Town.
Speaking in the bowels of Highbury Stadium after a 2-1 victory against Lincoln City, the midfielder was in a buoyant mood. He’d just made his 36th appearance for the Cod Army and helped them secure back-to-back wins. The previous triumph, a 2-0 defeat of Derby County at Pride Park, has been described as arguably the biggest result in the club’s history.
Working under former Celtic captain and midfielder Scott Brown, the decision to join Fleetwood - despite interest from elsewhere - is certainly bearing fruit.
“I love it here, really. It’s boss,” said Warrington. “I’m about seven months here and I’ve loved it. It’s been really good. I’ve learned so much from the gaffer and his staff. He obviously played in my position and that was one of the driving forces that brought me here. I’ve got better of a player.”
LiverpoolWorld made the jaunt up the Fylde coast to observe Warrington’s progress at Highbury Stadium. Fleetwood hosted Lincoln City in what many would have perceived as a clash between two mid-table League One sides with little to play for.
Try telling the Cod Army that. They have picked up markedly since recruiting shrewdly in the January transfer window. Having been flirting with relegation, they’re now aiming for a top-half finish.
A chief reason behind their improvement is because of striker Jayden Stockley and Jack Marriott being recruited. The former was man of the match, netting the decisive winner as well as having the opening goal taken off him despite the stadium announcement initially giving him the credit.
However, had Warrington been awarded the accolade, there would have been scant protests. In a side that featured a plethora of Football League veterans, the Birkenhead-born youngster looked like he was one of them.
Just take Fleetwood’s opening goal, for example. A splitting, pinpoint pass from Warrington found Carlos Mendes Gomes who won the corner to lead that yielded Adam Jackson’s 16th-minute own goal. Then two through balls in the second half provided crosses for big goalscoring chances that should have been taken.
However, it two blood-and-thunder tackles that impressed the most. In the eighth minute, his gaze was fixed on Lincoln’s Max Sanders. There was a split second when this reporter thought an immediate red card was in the offing, a 112-mile round trip proving an exercise in futility. The tackle, in fact, was timed to perfection.
Then in the 85th minute, despite legs tiring, Warrington fairly won a battle against Harry Boyes, who was left limping such was the robustness. The thud of the tackle was vociferous. To be frank, those sort challenges at age-group level may well have earned him a booking. Yet those tackles are bread and butter in the senior game.
Warrington believes that many facets of his game have improved under Brown’s tutelage. He said: “It’s been a perfect loan up to now. I’ve got far better as a player from a position sense, what he [Brown] wants from me.
“I’ve learned loads. Sometimes keeping it simple is the best thing; one or two touches and then finding new spaces to get on it, putting more tackles in, landing on second balls and reading the game well. My whole game has improved.
“I come to Fleetwood and it was a no-brainer. Scott has been really good to me and I’ve played most games so it’s been good for my development. The gaffer is always on me to get the ball forward as much as I can, play it into the number-eights or in behind more. That’s what I need to do. I went through a spell where I was trying to play a bit safe and I just needed to get over that and play forward a bit more.”
It has been an impressive nine months or so for Warrington. After a successive loan at League Two side Tranmere Rovers in the second half of 2021-22, he was part of Everton’s pre-season tour squad that travelled to America last summer. Warrington was highly rated by former manager Frank Lampard, who gave Warrington his debut in a 2-0 defeat of Fleetwood in the Carabao Cup second round.
But with Amadou Onana, Idrissa Gana Gueye and James Garner recruited, Warrington knew a loan spell where he’d be playing regularly was paramount for his development.
He said: “I come back in pre-season really fit and made my debut here and played really well. The journey I’ve been on has been down to how hard I worked.
“I couldn’t really play in the under-21s when I’d just been on loan. If I wasn’t getting a sniff in the first team, I was going to go out. Frank brought me into his office and said: ‘We’re signing two midfielders. If you want to stay then you can stay but you can go out on loan. It’s been the best decision.
“I got a text from Frank’s assistant when he left. They were really good backroom staff and I was a bit gutted he went but it was for the best. I learned loads (over the summer) just training with a higher calibre of players, and moving the ball quickly and I learned so much.”
It’s now Sean Dyche who resides in the Goodison Park hot seat as he aims to preserve Everton’s perpetual Premier League status.
The new boss’ remit is to ensure that relegation is avoided, with Warrington still to speak to him - but has only heard good things speaking to team-mates. It’s loans pathway manager James Vaughan and members of the coaching staff who Warringoton has mainly been liaising with - and all are happy.
“I speak to Vaughany quite a lot but they kind of just leave me to it,” continued Warrington. “They can see that I’m doing all right so they leave me to it. I’ve spoken to a few coaches as well. It’s good, I’m always in contact with them and they’re saying I’m doing well.
“All the lads are buzzing at the minute (after Dyche’s appointment). It’s a really top group of lads so, hopefully, we’ll stay up and I think we will.”
Warrington, who is under contract at Goodison until the summer of 2024, expects to be part of pre-season training with Everton in the summer.
And while he’ll relish the gruelling summer regime of Dyche, playing regularly in the 2023-24 campaign is his number-one priority.
Warrington added: “If I end up in the situation. I was training every day with them, I went away with them and was part of some match-day squads in the Premier League. If I’m in that and won’t be playing, I’d want to go back out and try to play higher.
“We’ll see how the summer goes. I’ll sit down with the family and assess the options but we’ll see.
“I’ve heard (about Dyche’s pre-seasons) because Joey Barton done it here. All the lads who were with Joey said it’s very tough but I don’t mind that, I look forward to it. I’m a runner, I can run for days anyway.”