BURTON Albion may play a narrower 4-3-3 formation more often next season thanks to the versatility of new signing Lucas Akins.
The forward joined the Brewers from Stevenage this week for an undisclosed fee, and boss Gary Rowett says the fact the 25-year-old can play up front or on the wing will give him more options in attack.
“We’ve got a little bit of flexibility in that Lucas is just as comfortable out wide or through the middle,” said the Pirelli chief.
“Last season, if we wanted to change to 4-3-3 during a game, we generally had to make a substitution.
“With Lucas, and with John Mousinho, who is also versatile, we can switch things around within a game.
“We’ve also got the likes of Adam McGurk, who you can put out wide and stick Lucas up top.”
Akins is the first player Rowett has ever paid a fee for, but insists that was not a conscious abstention, and said chairman Ben Robinson had always kept the purse strings open.
Asked if paying a fee presented a risk, Rowett answered: “No, but I think you just have to make sure it’s the right one.
“A few of our lads have played with him, and (assistant manager) Kev Summerfield coached him at Tranmere, so we’re not taking a gamble.
“The chairman has asked before if we want to do it (pay a fee), but until now we’ve not felt we needed to.
“There have been some teams who pay nominal fees and sometimes if you really want the player you have to assess and see if it’s worth the money.
“I think it’s a reasonable deal for us and a reasonable deal for Stevenage.”
Akins stands around six feet tall, bringing some much-needed height to the Albion front line, but despite also recruiting lofty midfielder Mousinho and towering centre-back George Taft, Rowett insisted he did not go out hunting giants.
“What we lacked last season, and what caused us a bit of a problem in one or two games was that we lacked a bit of height up front – and Lucas gives us that,” he said.
“I’ve not gone out to sign the biggest players I can, but that’s just who it has worked out, as Lucas, John and George are all big lads.”
Like Mousinho, Akins comes with League One experience, which was important to Rowett, but not as important as the player’s desire to improve himself.
“He is a very, very good signing,” said the Brewers boss.
“He is 25 so he’s still got a real hunger to achieve something in the game, and he has proved he can score goals.
“What’s important for us is what stage they’re at, it’s not just about what league they’re in.
“If we were signing a 34-year-old from League One, it wouldn’t be the same, but Lucas is still young and has shown he can play at that level.”