Leeds United defender Liam Kitching has today joined Forest Green Rovers on a three-year deal, as reported by their official site.
The 19-year-old signs on at the New Lawn for an undisclosed fee having spent last season on loan with National league side Harrogate Town.
He joins a Forest Green side that finished in the top six in League Two, but lost a two-legged semi-final against Tranmere Rovers, the same opponents they beat in the National League play-off final in 2017.
Forest Green manager Mark Cooper is delighted to have secured his services, saying; “He is versatile. He can play left centre-back and left-back.
“He is a good size, he can run and has got a good left foot. He has got the experience of playing in the National League at a young age and is one that we have identified from a long way out.”
He did get plenty of experience playing for Harrogate last season, so we explore his stats from the National League campaign in our latest Stat Attack piece.
The National League can be an unforgiving place with a mixture of robust centre forwards and experienced players on their way up and dropping down. It offers a variety of challenges for a young player and for Kitching to have significant experience at the level is impressive.
He made 34 outings for Simon Weaver’s side as they finished 6th in the table, losing out to Fylde in the play-offs. He was a key part of their defence, making 3.15 clearances per game and 5.42 interceptions per game. They’re incredibly impressive numbers, especially when contrasted with someone like Matt Clarke at Pompey.
He’s just earned a big money move to the Premier League on the back of 4.58 clearances per game and 5.98 interceptions. Kitching’s influence in a National League side as a 19-year-old was comparable with that of a top League One defender hunting the play-offs. That’s intended to give context to the numbers, not to compare the two players at different levels of the game.
He won 48.3% of his aerial duels and only picked up five yellow cards all season.
He’s certainly proven himself in the level below Forest Green and whilst he didn’t make the grade at Leeds, there is enough to suggest that he’s going to be a good player when he develops. He’s already got senior football under his belt and emerges from a tough division with impressive statistics.
There’s little wonder Forest Green have handed him a three-year deal and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him in their first team before the turn of the year.