Swindon Town have finally added a centre-back this summer as Ryan Delaney joined from Newport County, so what will he bring to the team?

Standing at six foot four, he will very obviously provide the archetype of a physical defender that Swindon have lacked for many seasons. He comes with a strong level of aerial dominance, averaging 5.1 aerial duels won per 90 minutes played, only seven defenders were winning in the air more than him last season in League Two.

He is also an active defender on top of that, only two defenders winning more than him in the air were winning more ground duels than his 2.27, placing tenth for total duels won, and he also ranked in the 91st percentile of defenders for blocks. He is your classic League Two active defender who is happy to get his very long sleeves dirty.

Chris Kirwan, sports reporter for the South Wales Argus, said of Delaney: “Delaney is an imposing figure and was almost a like-for-like replacement for stalwart Mickey Demetriou after he left for Crewe. He can play in a flat four but was most at home on the left of a central three.

“Delaney is strong in terms of blocks, interceptions and clearances while can come forward – and provided a couple of nice assists with crosses from the left – but should probably chip in more when coming forward for set pieces.

“I was certainly hoping that he would stay to offer some solidity and continuity but County now face an almost complete defensive rebuild.

“He was a massive loss when he suffered the injury in February – County were just starting to climb into contention for the play-offs.”

As Kirwan mentioned, Graham Coughlan predominantly used Delaney on the left of his back three and that puts him most likely into the Paudie O’Connor role from Mark Kennedy’s Lincoln City team, something which he seems very well suited to carry out.

Delaney compared to O'ConnorDelaney compared to O'Connor (Image: Sofascore)

Kennedy had two more solid defenders, with one given more freedom to roam as they were a converted full-back. O’Connor generally played on the left of the back three and if you compare his 2022/23 season playing under to Delaney’s 2023/24, the two have very similar profiles. Both are the head-it, kick-it style that Swindon have been waiting for whilst also comfortable defending wider. With this, Town are likely to add another defender in this mould to play in the middle alongside him and Udoka Godwin-Malife as part of this defensive rebuild.

Delaney also showed a surprising ability to contribute in possession, despite not being much of a ball-player, he came away with three assists and crossed more than most centre-backs. Additionally, clearly, his height will be an asset from set pieces, even if he only scored once last season.

Kirwan also spoke about his leadership qualities, as a composed person rather than one who will rant and rave at his teammates, but still brings the best out of those around him. This adds to Ollie Clarke, who already arrived this summer as a leader who contributes heavily to the culture as Swindon are creating a core of players with experience in helping teams through situations in League Two.

The big potential worry about this signing is the fact that Delaney has not played since February after suffering a knee injury. He is yet to play more than 32 games in a league season in his professional career, partially due to not always being a guaranteed starter, however, Kirwan did not see this as an issue as only suspension caused him to miss a game for Newport last season as he showed robustness prior to his season-ending injury.