Exeter City boss Matt Taylor had ‘no qualms’ about new signing Lewis Page initially trying out for Plymouth Argyle, suggesting that it gave the Grecians a chance to see him in action, writes Andrew Clayton.
Left back Page, who came through the West Ham United academy and last played for Charlton Athletic in the Championship, has been on Exeter’s radar after failing to agree new terms with the Addicks last season.
The 24-year-old has been in touch with the Grecians since then, but opted for a trial period on the other side of Devon, at old rivals Plymouth Argyle, featuring in their pre-season calendar.
However, Page turned down a short-term deal at Home Park and, after a trial at St James Park, signed on for the Grecians – almost certainly their last signing of the summer transfer window, according to their manager, Matt Taylor.
Speaking to The Independent, Taylor explained how Page’s stint with the Pilgrims was actually a benefit for both parties.
“We spoke to him as soon as our season was over,” he began. “It was apparent that he wasn’t going to get a contract at Charlton and we knew what a good player he is. He wanted to go on trial with Plymouth and I had no qualms about that. It meant we waited in terms of making a decision on recruiting a left-back; it also meant he had three weeks of training before he came to us.
“Some trialists come to us not in the best shape, having not played enough, so he came to us in relatively good shape. The fact that he got through that month at Plymouth, training every time, playing in games, meant he was in a pretty good shape for us to get a look at him in detail. We feel that he’s good value and if we keep him fit, there’ll be serious quality there.”
Taylor emphasised the importance of keeping Page’s fitness levels high. The full-back has been beset by injuries through his career but, if in top shape, will battle with Jack Sparkes for the left flank role and may even return to a higher level.
He continued: “In terms of Lewis, it’s about getting back, playing competitive football again and putting a consistent run of games together. If he does that, we won’t keep hold of him – it’s as simple as that, he’ll go back to a higher standard.
“He’s just been unlucky and not had enough games of football, but no one can deny what a good player he is.
“We’re giving him an opportunity, it’s a fantastic opportunity for both parties and if we keep him fit, then we’ve got a seriously good player. But, that doesn’t take anything away from Jack Sparkes, or Alex Hartridge, or any other left-sided players we’ve got.”