Nigel Clough has hailed the impact of on-loan Leicester City defender Lewis Brunt, telling The Chad he is getting better as the season goes on.
The 23-year-old is on his first senior EFL loan, having previously played for Gloucester City as an Aston Villa player. He’s made 10 starts in League Two and appeared 17 times overall for Clough’s side as they hunt automatic promotion. He’s clearly impressed, as Clough admitted the risk he took plucking him from Under 23 football is paying off.
“We knew he was a good footballer,” said the former Burton boss. “He was a converted midfield player – he was a central midfield player at Aston Villa. Leicester took him and made him into a centre-half.
“We watched him play for the U23s, but it’s impossible to predict how they are going to deal with the physicality of League Two.”
It’s fair to say Brunt, who has a handful of senior appearances for the Foxes, has adapted well, as Clough goes on to explain.
“We could see his spring was fantastic going for headers and that he could play a bit.
“It was whether he could deal with the physical side, and I think he is getting more used to that and better at it. He has got better as the season has gone on.”
The defender has now formed a partnership in the middle of defence with former Bristol City man Aden Flint and certainly looks competent. The Stags have surged up the table and currently sit second, six points behind early pacesetter Stockport County.
Brunt began his career at Aston Villa and twice had loan spells with National League side Gloucester City. He was released at the end of the 2020/21 season, which is when then-Premier League side Leicester City snapped him up.
He made his first team debut against Watford in the FA Cup in January 2022, going on to appear in the Premier League in May against Spurs. He earned the Men’s Development Squad Player of the Season for the 2021-22 season and bagged a three-year deal on top of that for his efforts.
After two more outings for the side in 2022/23, he joined the Stags on a season-long load in the summer.
Brunt is a bit of a success story for Leicester. Cast aside by Aston Villa, he could easily have filtered down the divisions, but the Foxes took a risk and have seen it pay off.
He might not have impacted their first team on a regular basis, but there are the makings of a decent player there, and a good season with the Stags could see him worth a few quid before his contract expires.
He’s certainly thriving at Field Mill. Mansfield look like they may finally end their decade-long stint in the basement division this season. If they do, there could be scope for a permanent move for Brunt.
If he keeps on performing as well as he has the last few weeks, there’s even a chance a side a little further up the divisions might take an interest.