On the final day of transfer activity for English football league clubs until the new year, three Chelsea youngsters departed on lower league loans, whilst a fourth will spend the rest of his season back at home overseas.
Conor Clifford has joined League One outfit Crawley Town, his second spell in the division after a month at Portsmouth earlier this season, whilst Todd Kane and Patrick Bamford join him in the division in their first moves away from Stamford Bridge.
Kane will join up with Preston North End, whilst Bamford – who only joined Chelsea in January from Nottingham Forest – makes the relatively short trip up to Milton Keyes Dons. All three moves are provisionally until the first week of January, but can be extended if it proves beneficial to all parties.
Anjur Osmanovic, meanwhile, is returning to Sweden and former club Larje-Angereds to get some much needed playing time after a season in which he has struggled to feature in the Under-18 set-up. A summer injury hindered his progress, and with the team playing well ever since, there’s just not been room for him to play.
The trio of League One moves are all intriguing in their own ways, with the moves meaning different things to each player involved.
For Clifford, it’s a chance to kick-start a career which has stalled ever since returning from a wildly successful spell at Plymouth Argyle in 2010. Unsuccessful jaunts to Notts County, Yeovil and Portsmouth since then have led to an almost nomadic experience for the young Irishman, who has been coming and going from Cobham with relative regularity and as a result has rarely been able to settle and find himself as a footballer again.
He told Crawley’s official website:
“I’m looking forward to getting started. I couldn’t wait to get out on loan, I was sort of stuck at Chelsea for a while.
“I just needed to get out and play some games. It’s a great club so I’m relishing the chance to get some time on the pitch.
“I want to get some experience and help Crawley up the table, but I know I will have to bide some time because there’s some good players here.
“When I do get a chance hopefully I will take it and score a few goals because I see myself as a box-to-box midfielder.”
He’s been given the number 10 shirt but, as noted above, he may have to wait for an opportunity in the immediate short-term, but there will be chances to play in a busy schedule between now and the end of December.
Whilst Clifford is a dab hand at the loan process by now, it’s a new experience for right-back Kane, who at 19 is now ready to embark upon a senior professional career midway through a season in which he’s been ever-present as captain for Dermot Drummy’s Under-21s.
“It is really good to get the opportunity to play a lot of first team games. There are at least ten games in the period of my loan, with Chelsea giving me permission to play in the FA Cup, which is a bonus and hopefully I can show the manager what I am capable in training and earn my chance to show what I am made of.”
His arrival at Deepdale coincides with a potentially serious injury to regular right-back Keith Keane, a summer signing from Luton Town. Manager Graham Westley is clearly concerned enough to bring in cover in his position, and Todd’ll go straight into the squad to play Leyton Orient on Saturday, being assigned the 14 shirt.
Bamford’s move to the MK Dons provides the prolific forward with another taste of first-team football, something he saw in brief in his final days at Nottingham Forest. Having proven that he is more than capable of holding his own at Under-21 level, and having refined his game to the point he’s now a creative threat as well as a goalscoring one, the next step is to test himself against a higher calibre of opponent.
Promotion-chasing MK are third in the league but have struggled in front of goal in recent weeks, recording just eight goals in their last eight league outings. Their defence has held up well enough to keep them in a lofty position, but with Dean Bowditch as their leading marksman with six – three of which came in a single September game – they’re obviously in need of some help.
Of course, the departure of three Under-21 team regulars will allow Dermot Drummy to promote some younger faces into his group. With only two games remaining before the end of the year and a very slim chance of progressing into the Elite Group, look out for the likes of Fankaty Dabo, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, John Swift and Jeremie Boga to see more opportunities at the next level up.
As always, you’ll be able to keep up to date with the progress of the latest trio of loanees as well as the other twenty-something already out here at TheChels.net every Sunday evening in The Loan Report.