With the Barclays Premier League and La Liga in Spain yet to get underway, the English lower leagues continue to take the early season spotlight on the loan front. Business is, however, set to pick up from here on out, but it’s been a largely positive start to the season for many young Chelsea youngsters.
Patrick Bamford scored four goals in a little over a dozen appearances in his spell at Milton Keynes Dons last season, and was manager Karl Robinson’s ‘number one target’ going into 2013-14. In his first home outing of the season, and his first league start, the tall forward rewarded his manager’s faith in bringing him back to StadiumMK by scoring the only goal in their win over Crewe.
It was the sort of predatory finish he’s making a name for himself from; finding himself in the right place at the right time to put the ball in the back of the net. Playing at the top of a forward line featuring three very young and inexperienced players in Jason Banton, Dele Alli and George Baldock, it also falls upon Patrick to act as something of a leader despite being of tender years himself, but thus far he appears to be revelling in such a role.
Elsewhere in League One on Saturday, George Saville had a productive home debut for Brentford by capping a lively and industrious performance with an assist in the Bees’ 3-1 win over fellow promotion hopefuls Sheffield United. He showed dogged persistence to win the ball back in a dangerous area before playing Will Grigg in for the first of a brace on the day.
Erroneous reports by the Press Association claimed Saville had been sent off in the closing stages but they were soon corrected and the midfielder is already making himself a key member of Uwe Rosler’s side.
Chelsea have two loanees in The Championship, and although Todd Kane is first choice at right-back for Blackburn Rovers, Billy Clifford is having a harder time getting into Gary Johnson’s Yeovil Town so far. Kane, who emerged as a key player for Rovers last season, celebrated a maiden call-up to the England Under-21 squad this week and played 90 minutes in a tough game against Nottingham Forest at Ewood Park on Saturday.
Up against veteran wide player Andy Reid, Kane rode his luck at times and was exposed once or twice by the crafty Republic of Ireland international, but he stuck to his task and improved as the game went on. Forest won the game in stoppage time courtesy of a Darius Henderson strike.
Clifford was once again on the bench for Yeovil’s league action after getting some minutes in the Cup in midweek, but was not called upon as the Glovers went down 1-0 at home to Birmingham. Johnson’s squad is small though, and Billy will be sure to see his fair share of playing time in the months ahead.
Back in League One, Sam Walker bounced back from shipping five in midweek to record his second consecutive league clean sheet as Colchester made it two wins out of two, beating Port Vale 1-0 at the Weston Homes Community Stadium. He had considerably less to do than at Gillingham last weekend but has picked up where he left off in Essex last season and the U’s are on for a promising season. Daniel Pappoe did not make the matchday squad, however.
Milan Lalkovic shook off a hamstring complaint to play all but three minutes for Walsall as they too continued their 100% league start by winning 1-0 at Oldham Athletic. The Slovakian has already forged a strong understanding with Craig Westcarr and James Baxendale in the Saddlers’ forward ranks as they look to replace a trio of goalscorers who departed over the summer, and the early signs are good.
There are now four Chelsea players on loan at Vitesse Arnhem after South Americans Cristian Cuevas and Lucas Piazon jetted over to the Gelredome this week, but with their late arrivals and Gael Kakuta’s absence through injury, Patrick van Aanholt was the club’s sole representative in yellow and black this week.
It was hardly a vintage few days either, as they crashed out of the Europa League to Romanian outfit Petrolul before going down 4-2 away to RKC Waaljwick in a woeful display on Sunday. Van Aanholt played in both matches but nobody in Vitesse colours did themselves any justice. Based on recent showings, they’re going to need to spend some of the money received for Marco van Ginkel and Wilfried Bony as soon as possible.
Thorgan Hazard started for Zulte Waregem in their 1-1 draw against Club Brugge. He played his usual style of creative, probing football and was substituted with four minutes remaining on the clock.
The kickoff in Spain is still a couple of weeks away but Marko Marin played twice this week and made his first official appearance in Sevilla colours as the Andalucians strolled past Mladost Podgorica in the Europa League qualifiers. He followed half an hour in Montenegro with 90 minutes the night after in Rio Ferdinand’s testimonial, where he rather embarrassed the former England international by scoring a tidy goal.
It would appear that gold has finally been struck in Matej Delac’s career. FK Vojvodina may lack the glamour and status of some of his previous homes, but the Serbians have been accommodating in making him their first choice and have reaped the early benefits as he kept a clean sheet in a superb 3-0 win away to Bursaspor to move within a two-legged tie of reaching the Europa League group stages.