NEWPORT County AFC new boy James Waite has been hailed as a deadly finisher by one of Welsh football’s most potent strikers.
Attacking midfielder Waite made his Exiles debut off the bench in the 4-0 League Two win over Harrogate Town on Saturday.
The 22-year-old from Cwmbran arrived last week on an 18-month contract from Penybont after shining in the Cymru Premier following his release from Cardiff City.
The diminutive Waite worked under County boss James Rowberry at the Bluebirds and has bounced back quickly from being released.
He earned another crack at the Football League by starring for Penybont, developing under former Exiles striker Rhys Griffiths.
With 271 goals in 343 Welsh Premier League appearances, the seven-time golden boot winner knows a thing or two about finishing and believes County have a cool operator in Waite.
“I have to say that in training he is the best finisher that I have ever seen – with his feet that is because he’s not going to score a lot of headers!” said Griffiths, who was a member of Justin Edinburgh’s squad that earned County’s return to the Football League in 2013.
“I played with one or two players that went on to play in the Premier League and I was with some very good forwards during my time at County.
“In terms of finishing in training he is on another level to all of them so the task for James Rowberry, as it was for me, is to get that out of him in games.
“It’s easier said than done but he has low backlift, moves the ball very quickly and strikes the ball when defenders don’t think that he will. James is very clever with his finishing and from 20 yards and closer he is deadly.
James Waite 🔵⚪️
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“He was a work in progress for us but was still our top scorer and would have gone on to score 25 or 30 in the Welsh Premier League.
“James is not the complete article in terms of the knowledge of his own game but he has got amazing technical ability and a high IQ for finishing.
“But I played with plenty who were always good trainers and in boxing you have fighters who are good in the gym but no so good in the ring.
“Now it’s up to James to show that he can pick those moments in games and it was great to see him get that first opportunity last weekend. I hope he gets the platform to show his talent and kick on.”
Waite came on for Swansea City prospect Ollie Cooper when the game was won last weekend, playing behind the in-form strike pairing of Dom Telford and Courtney Baker-Richardson.
“James Rowberry probably knows him better than me, although not in a senior environment,” said Griffiths.
“He can play in numerous positions. We played him up front on his own, believe it or not, as well as on both sides, in a two up front and as a number 10.
“Whatever role he plays in it will be about confidence and hopefully he can hit the ground running and get an assist or a goal soon. He certainly won’t let you down.”
Waite is a success story for the Cymru Premier and Penybont, following last January’s signing of central defender Priestley Farquharson from Connah’s Quay Nomads.
“It’s a double-edged,” said Griffiths, who intends to return to Rodney Parade to watch Waite. “I have lost a player and a person that I value but it shows future players that if you want to get back into the Football League then we are an option.
“We will let players express themselves and people will look at James and see that we have given him the best opportunity.
“Hopefully he will go on to have a successful professional career and in time will look back and think that Penybont helped him get another chance in the Football League.”