Lachlan Brook celebrating his goal against Perth Glory in 2020. (Image: Adelaide United/Instagram)

With Ben Halloran and Stefan Mauk exiting the club, Lachlan Brook returns to Adelaide United from Brentford with high expectations.

The swift exit of Ben Halloran and the imminent transfer of captain Stefan Mauk leaves a gaping hole in Adelaide United’s final third of the pitch. Lachlan Brook has been entrusted by former mentor Carl Veart to fill it for the rest of the season.

Who is Lachlan Brook?

Adelaide United fans may be familiar with Lachlan Brook, who made an impact for the club when the 2019/2020 A-League Men Season restarted in a hub, before departing for Brentford FC.

Re-signing Brook on loan is a move that aligns with the club’s values of developing young South Australian footballers and also one that is important from an on-field point of view.

Preceding Brook’s first stint at United came time as a youth player at Gawler Eagles, Para Hills Knights and Adelaide Croatia Raiders before being recruited by the FFSA National Talent Center and the FFA Center of Excellence. He later transitioned to Adelaide United’s NPL SA side where he was a strong contributor.

Brook became a consistent goal scorer at the NPL SA level, with 15 goals in his time in the state competition. It was not until Carl Veart was named the interim coach that Brook was given a real shot to make a spot for himself in Adelaide United’s first XI.

After being a standout in the hub for the league’s top performing side that month, Brook was noticed by youth development specialists and current Premier League new-boys Brentford FC who snapped him up. Brook has been playing for Brentford’s B team since.

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How Brook earned a Premier League move

Veart was well-aware of the talents of Brook, having coached him during his time at the FFSA National Talent Center. Thus, it was no surprise that when Veart named his first lineup as the interim United coach Brook was named as a starter on the wing in all four games.

The coach’s faith in Brook was so strong that he moved veteran winger Ben Halloran to the midfield in order to accommodate Brook in his starting XI. Veart’s faith was justified, with Brook being a revelation in the hub, leaving United fans asking why he had not been introduced as a regular in the senior side sooner.

Brook was electric in the four matches in the hub, constantly creating opportunities on the right wing. He recorded six key passes and seven successful dribbles to go along with a goal against Perth Glory and an assist against Sydney FC.

Brook has also represented the Australian national team at the junior level from under 17s all the way up to under 23s. He has mostly operated as a right winger and occasionally as an attacking midfielder. Brook has recorded 13 goals for Australia in the youth level.

Not a stranger to positive contributions in the final third, Brook has continued his goal scoring form in Brentford for the B team. Cracking a Premier League squad is a tough task, one that Brook has not been able to achieve as of yet but would be hoping to change in the near future with strong displays in his return to the A-League Men competition.

Where will Brook fit in Adelaide United’s team?

Primarily a right winger, Brook is also capable at playing as an attacking midfielder. He can be of great use in either position, and Adelaide United can use support in both with the outgoing transfers of Stefan Mauk and Ben Halloran.

As a right winger, Brook’s trademark is his lethal ability to cut onto his left foot and get a good look at goal or set up a teammate. A direct winger like Brook is quite unique in Australian football, and United currently has two players like that on their books in Brook and Bernardo.

Fitting Brook and Bernardo in the same line up can work, but one would have to play as the attacking midfielder while the other one occupies the right wing. Both players are well suited to their role, they provide great movement, get involved in link up play and have a good eye for goal, along with the ability to split the opposition side with a killer ball.

With Brook being the more senior of the two, it is likely he will be entrusted with the attacking midfield spot. Veart would be banking on Brook’s ability to be decisive in the final third, along with his ability to create good opportunities at goal for his teammates in order for United to turn their strong control of the ball to meaningful opportunities and goals.

Brook can be a difference maker as the attacking midfielder for United. Despite Stefan Mauk’s admirable efforts in the position over the past season and a half, he is not a natural attacking midfielder and he produces his best football as a dynamic box-to-box midfielder.

With the double pivot of Isaias and Juande being Veart’s preference, a dynamic attacking midfielder like Brook may be a more suitable profile for that spot in Adelaide United’s side than the combative Mauk.

Unlike his first stint at the club, Brook is no longer the youngster that is full of promise and hope. He instead enters Adelaide United in a time of need for precision, decisiveness and quality, and he will be heavily relied upon. His reintegration and subsequent performances will go a long way to deciding the fate of United’s season.

It is an opportunity for him to flourish and show he can dictate a game at a senior level. Brentford will be watching closely, hoping Brook can step up and star in the league like fellow Gawler Eagles product Riley McGree did before going on to star in England for Birmingham FC.

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