The final loan report of the year takes in a fortnight of action, as last week’s was skipped due to many matches falling foul of the weather.
Nonetheless, there has been plenty to catch up on, so we’ll dive straight in at the top, with Michael Mancienne at Wolves. Unfortunately, the England Under-21 captain has been sidelined since December 4th with a knee injury, one which has led to Chelsea medical staff requesting his return to Cobham for treatment.
Full details of the problem are yet to be revealed but Mick McCarthy is uncertain as to how long he will be without his young midfielder. Another problem plaguing the former Irish international is the possibility of Chelsea ending his loan in January, as a recall clause is included in the deal.
In The Championship, Ryan Bertrand and Nottingham Forest ended three weeks without a match on December 18th with a comprehensive 3-0 home victory over Crystal Palace. They followed it up yesterday with an emphatic 5-2 win over rivals Derby County, although the young left back went off after 38 minutes with an injury.
Billy Davies has revealed that it will keep him sidelined for three weeks, which will take him past the end of his loan spell, but it is widely known that Forest intend to keep the left-back at the City Ground, either for the rest of the season or on a permanent basis. Watch this space for more.
Jack Cork, meanwhile, played ninety minutes twice in two days as Burnley first won at Barnsley but then lost to Scunthorpe, a result which cost manager Brian Laws his job.
That in turn may affect whether Cork stays at Turf Moor. Laws was a fan of Jack’s, taking him on loan twice, and spoke of hoping to sign him outright, but that may all change under new stewardship.
From Cork’s point of view, he continues to play well and was inches away from both a goal and an assist over the Christmas period. Such is his form and ability, he should remain in contention throughout the remainder of the season.
The topsy-turvy world continues in League One, where Conor Clifford spent two months with Plymouth Argyle before the FA stepped in. The Irishman was superb at Home Park, leading the financially troubled outfit to seek to extend his stay until the end of the campaign, but due to issues with HMRC, the deal was deemed as a new transfer and blocked as the club are in administration.
Peter Reid was naturally disappointed to lose a key player, remarking:
“Obviously, we’re all bitterly disappointed he won’t be with us.
“The boy was sick, really gutted when he was told he wouldn’t be staying.
“He’s done great for us and been a leader and shook people up, but what will be, will be.
“But it is a blow – I’ve got to say that.
“He brought enthusiasm and energy to our play in the middle of the park, and has been a breath of fresh air.
“I only learned (that he wouldn’t be staying) on Tuesday afternoon from the league.
“But there’s nothing I can do about it – there’s no good worrying or moaning – I’ve just got to get on with it.”
With Adam Phillip having returned from Yeovil, Michael Woods is the only other Blue in the division, and made his only appearance to date as a 3rd minute substitute for the injured Ricky Ravenhill in an FA Cup tie against Bournemouth.
Impressions on his debut ranged from impressive to invisible, with many finding a comfortable middle ground. He is due to leave Meadow Lane in early January, unless Paul Ince decides otherwise.
In League Two, Rhys Taylor has had much of December off, as Crewe’s fixture slate has been snowed off since December 11th.
Things continue to go very well for Ben Gordon at Kilmarnock, with seven points from nine taken in December. The points dropped came in a creditable draw away to Celtic, and Mixu Paatelainen’s men are up to fourth in the SPL.
Gordon has been in superb form, grabbing two assists in the 2-1 win against Hibernian and notching another against Inverness CT on Wednesday. His marauding displays from full-back have been a key reason for the team’s success, and everyone at Rugby Park is working towards extending his deal beyond the next week.
As is typical at this time of year, European leagues are on a winter break, meaning Tomas Kalas, Matej Delac, Nemanja Matic and Slobodan Rajkovic are enjoying time off, but Vitesse coach Albert Ferrer took time out to sign the praises of one particular loanee:
“Some day, Rajkovic will captain a big club.”
“Not just play for one, but captain. I have great confidence in him, he has shown great consistency in his performances.
He also has the right attitude. Because of his personality, I had no problem in giving him the captaincy.
Of course, he can be aggressive, but everyone knows he is the captain. His word is important.