Former Stoke City Under-23 captain Lewis Banks has linked up with Liam Buckley and signed on with the Bit o’Red for the 2019 season.
Banks, 21, moves to the Showgrounds from English non-league side Stafford Rangers. He plays right-back but is capable of operating across the backline and in a more advanced role.
He played 59 matches for Stoke’s Premier League 2 side before leaving the club last summer.
Banks had signed for Stafford in August but was available if full-time football materialised and the Bit o’ Red today confirmed his move to the club.
He joins up with Liam Buckley’s side along with fellow new signings Ronan Murray, Johnny Dunleavey, Dante Leverock, Romeo Parker’s and the re-turning John Russell ahead of the new season.
Banks said it was a no brainier to move to the League of Ireland, “I jumped at the chance when I heard of Sligo’s interest. I think it’s a great opportunity for me because full-time football is something I’ve been keen to get back to.”
“I had 12 years at Stoke – which I really enjoyed of course – before moving on. Stafford Rangers are a really good club – but I can’t turn down that chance to be back in the environment where your entire day and life is about football.”
“You miss going in every morning and things like that and I think Sligo Rovers is a place for me to shine. I want to play firstly. It’s a big move to go to Ireland but it’s a great one for me to show what I can do.”
“My agent told me of the interest and I said ‘yes’ straight away to be honest. There was a week or so to be able to get here today. Now that I’m here I really like the set-up and the research I did shows this to be a really good club.”
“I can play a number of positions but right-back would be the main one. That’ll be up to the manager to decide. I’m fit, I’m ready to play and with the season starting next week it’s the perfect time to join.”
Liam Buckley was delighted to sign up the young right-back saying, “Lewis was the Under-23 Player of the Season at the end of 2017 with Stoke.
“He was captain there as well and I’m delighted to have him here with us. We’ll be looking for him to make an impact and I think he has the quality to do that.”
“He has plenty of ability and that versatility is brilliant for us. He can also play in midfield as well as the back four. I think he sees this as a great opportunity and hopefully he can hit the ground running.”
Sligo will kick-off the new season with probably the toughest game of the season, as they head to Oriel Park on opening night to face last season’s double-winners Dundalk on Friday February the 15th.
Photos courtesy of Sligo Rovers