The winter period is a tough time for the fixtures list.
Matches come at unusual intervals and on unusual days, whilst some countries decide to simply take a rest at this time. For the aspiring young footballer on loan, it can prove to be an eye-opening time.
The first loan round-up of 2011 will take in the events of the last week and a half, with a very anglo-centric look, for good reason.
The Dutch Eredivisie has not yet restarted, meaning Messrs Delac, Rajkovic and Matic are not yet in competitive action. Vitesse are currently taking in the warmer climbs of Turkey in the form of a training camp, and return to domestic activity later in the month.
For Tomáš Kalas, there is an immediate change of scenery. He will now join up with Chelsea six months earlier than originally planned, and instead of going back to the Czech Republic for the resumption of their domestic league, he will stay in England, where he has spent the winter break.
Having spent the two weeks training with Steve Holland’s reserve side, and brief involvement with the first team, the young defender feels confident that now is the right time to make the move, and after a discussion with Frank Arnesen, the decision was made to strike a deal with Sigma to finalise the advancement of the transfer this month.
There will also be no further Chelsea representation north of the border, as Ben Gordon’s spell in the SPL has come to an end. One of Kilmarnock’s best players this season, he signed off with another fine performance away to St Mirren last Monday, but despite the club’s desire to keep him around, Blues staff had alternative plans.
Due to finding it a struggle to evaluate the level of the Scottish top-flight, and therefore gauge Gordon’s current ability, they have moved him to Scunthorpe in The Championship. With previous links at Glanford Park after Jack Cork spent some time there a few years ago, the club are confident that Gordon is in good hands, but he will not be able to make his debut for a few weeks as he has a slight injury.
As one left-back comes into the division, another leaves. Ryan Bertrand was unable to add to his nineteen appearances in a Nottingham Forest shirt in the new year’s fixtures due to injury, but was recalled to Stamford Bridge on Wednesday, likely with the desire to loan out Patrick van Aanholt in mind.
With Michael Mancienne missing all of Wolves’ matches since December 4th, regular readers can find some much-needed stability in Jack Cork. The Burnley midfielder sat out Stuart Gray’s first match of the year but returned to impress in a tough away defeat against Reading two days later.
In weekend FA Cup action, he was involved in his 24th match of the season, playing the full match agaisnt Port Vale and laying on a goal for Chris Eagles during the 4-2 win.
In League One, Michael Woods remains at Notts County, but has only added five minutes to his one appearance to date. Granted, they came in the latter stages of a famous cup upset at Sunderland this weekend, but he would have hoped to make more of an impact at Meadow Lane.
Rhys Taylor and Crewe, however, are on the up and up. Three straight clean sheets for the Welsh stopper against Northampton, Shrewsbury and Wycombe have seen the Railwaymen take nine points from a possible nine and ascend to fifth in League Two.