What will Aberdeen Women’s trio of new signings – Jeni Currie, Lois Edwards and Keeley Banfield – bring to the Dons after agreeing deals until the end of the season?
They made their Dons debuts in a third-round Scottish Cup win over Boroughmuir Thistle, before making their first SWPL appearances in the weekend’s 2-0 defeat to Partick Thistle.
To find out more about the latest additions, and what they might bring to Aberdeen, The Press and Journal spoke to the trio’s former coaches and team-mates.
Lois Edwards – fresh start after serious injury
Watford legend Helen Ward worked with Edwards, 22, before she retired at the end of last season and the took on a role as the Hornets general manager.
Ward – who is Wales’ all-time goalscorer and has also played for Chelsea, Arsenal and Reading – believes Edwards’ move to the north-east of Scotland is an opportunity for the defender to push on after a serious injury.
An anterior cruciate ligament injury to one of her knees sidelined Edwards for the last 13 months of her spell with Watford.
“What I will say is that, although I didn’t see a lot of Lois in competitive games for us, her diligence and attitude during her recovery from injury was absolutely spot on,” said Ward.
“She actually inspired a lot of our players, because she came to every single session to do her rehab and did it properly.
“She was always there supporting the team, which can’t be easy when you’re injured. Some people might distance themselves from the group, but she was the opposite.
“Before her injury, we saw signs of a really talented young player, particularly in training and in pre-season.
“Her attitude and energy was fantastic. She really is a top girl, gives everything to her team, wants to get better every single day and does everything she can to go do that.”
Ward worked with Aberdeen manager Lancaster during his time at the helm at Watford, and she believes Edwards, who came through the ranks at Chelsea’s academy, will suit the Englishman’s style of play.
“Clint likes to play football,” added Ward. “He can be direct at times, which doesn’t mean it’s a long-ball team, but it just depends on the situation and opposition.
“He likes to organise his teams in a certain way and be very clear on what he wants his players to do. I don’t think Lois will have any problems with that. She always took everything on board.
“He likes his full-backs to attack quite freely and I see that being the case with Lois – she will want to contribute at both ends of the pitch.
“She can play more centrally as well, and there she would like to get on the ball a lot, which is what Clint wants his players to do.
“I can see it working well. She has shown her versatility playing with any style and being able to play in a range of positions will help her, help Clint and help the team in the long run.”
Keeley Banfield – an experienced leader at just 20
Banfield, 20, signed for the Dons having last played for Bridgwater United in the English fourth-tier.
Her former coach Rob Liddiard – who is the ex-academy manager at Bridgwater United and oversaw Banfield’s development from youth level to the senior team – believes the midfielder will thrive in her new surroundings.
And having skippered her former side last season, Liddiard says Banfield arrives to the north-east of Scotland with strong leadership skills for somebody so young.
“It was something she had already started to do at Bridgwater, but that sense of leadership,” said Liddiard.
“When I was working with her at Bridgwater, she was breaking into the senior environment and now at Aberdeen she has the chance to share those experiences, because it is a young squad.
“There are players at Aberdeen who are in a similar situation to what Keeley was only a couple of years ago.
“Her greatest opportunity is to continue developing her leadership and to grow her profile.
“She has come from a club that is a lot smaller than Aberdeen, but now has the potential to really push on here and showcase herself to the entire league in Scotland.”
Liddiard also hailed Banfield’s mindset, saying she always strives to be better, and her former coach expects the midfielder to adapt to the demands of the SWPL.
“The speed of the game is much quicker and I think Keeley’s attributes suit that,” added Liddiard.
“When Aberdeen play Rangers and Celtic, from her time at Bridgwater when they were a team struggling in the division, she is used to coming up against teams who dominate possession and have almost total control – and she’s a good disruptor of that.
“Against the teams Aberdeen are expected to compete with, Keeley will be able to control and manage those kinds of games. There is a calmness to her.
“She will be competitive and aggressive. I think she mentioned herself that she loves a tackle and she will be prepared to showcase that – she doesn’t have any fear.
“It has been a surprise that it has taken a couple seasons of tier three and tier four football in England for another club to pick her up.”
Jeni Currie – an old head between the posts
Former Hamilton Accies manager Gary Doctor worked with the new Aberdeen goalkeeper Currie, 27, during the 2021-22 season.
She arrived at the Dons with plenty of experience, having also turned out for Hearts and Hibernian in the SWPL, Sion Swifts in Northern Ireland and Pirin in Bulgaria.
Doctor believes this will benefit a young Aberdeen squad – with Currie now the most senior player in Lancaster’s ranks.
“I think Jeni is a really good signing by Clint,” said Doctor. “I have seen Aberdeen a few times and I think she will be a good addition for them.
“She’s confident, a good communicator and has a lot of good experience.
“When she played for us, she was just what we needed because of that experience. She has been around the league and has played abroad and in Northern Ireland.
“She will bring a bit of professionalism, having been about the other clubs – that’s what she brought to us.”
Although Currie’s league debut for the Dons ended in defeat, it could have been a lot more than a two-goal margin if it had not been for several impressive saves from the custodian.
“Her ability to make saves is outstanding,” said Doctor “Her shot-stopping is great.
“When I pitched her in on her debut, she saved a penalty for us, so she’s got those great instincts.
“The biggest strength for Jeni is consistency. She doesn’t really make errors, which might sound daft, but you do see a lot of goalkeeping errors occur.
“To get a goalkeeper who isn’t prone to making mistakes and is solid can make all the difference, because it gives confidence to the other players in front of her.
“Aberdeen have a young defence so having an experienced goalkeeper who can direct traffic for them will help.”
A key part of Aberdeen’s game under Lancaster has been playing out from the back and Doctor reckons Currie fits the bill for that style of play – and offers other options.
“One of the things she will allow them to do from that building out from the back framework and with teams pushing up against them, she has the ability to strike long passes,” said the former Accies manager. “Not a long punt, but it is a directed pass which would bypass that kind of pressure.”