A busy Easter weekend across Europe has given us plenty by way of talking points for the latest instalment of the Loan Report, and we begin with a couple of new goalscorers.
Patrick Bamford’s second spell at League One’s MK Dons has gotten off to an excellent start as the former Nottingham Forest man has struck twice in his last two games. A regular feature now fit after a hamstring injury, he has earned the trust of manager Karl Robinson and grabbed a goal on Good Friday against Hartlepool United after notching against Crewe before the international break.
He had another decent outing on Monday in a 2-0 win over Brentford, but the Dons are unlikely to muster a late playoff bid and so will instead look to build for next season. Bamford may however prove in the final seven games of the season to be too good for England’s third tier and seek to earn himself greater opportunities for 2013-14.
Also on the scoresheet this week, and indeed also looking towards the future, was Hamburg’s Jeffrey Bruma. He headed his first goal since November 2011 late on in their trip to Bayern Munich, but it was scant consolation as he and his HSV colleagues were on the wrong end of a 9-2 shellacking by last season’s European Cup runners-up.
There were plenty of other talking points all across the globe, as far as Chelsea’s plentiful loanees reach. In the Premier League, Romelu Lukaku and West Brom were on the losing side away to West Ham United but the Belgian did win a late penalty which Graeme Dorrans converted. Lukaku had previously taken the majority of the club’s penalties but a recent miss appears to have handed Dorrans the responsibilities.
In The Championship, Todd Kane continues to impress at Blackburn Rovers and figures to be given more opportunities in the last month or so of the season under caretaker manager Gary Bowyer, who has seen first-hand what the rampaging right-back can do, having managed against him at Under-18 and Under-21 levels.
He picked up an assist at home to Blackpool on Friday, playing a neat one-two with Lee Williamson before heading into the path of Jordan Rhodes for Rovers’ eventual equaliser. He was then one of very few players to do himself justice as they lost 3-0 away to Premier League-bound Cardiff in the second game of their Easter double-header.
Josh McEachran was an unused substitute for a much-changed Middlesbrough side which lost to Wolves 3-2 on Friday and continued their terrible form in 2013, but Nathaniel Chalobah did return to full fitness over the international period and found good form ahead of Watford’s home date with Burnley.
He had another good game and played a role in the second of the Hornets’ three goals, but Gianfranco Zola’s side were only able to take a point in a 3-3 draw. Chalobah was at one point stretchered off with a potentially serious injury, but to the relief of Chelsea fans everywhere, he was able to resume minutes later.
Sam Hutchinson was handed his first start in six months for Nottingham Forest at home to Brighton and extended his unbeaten run not only in red, but indeed in senior professional football by playing well in a 2-2 top of the table draw. He was withdrawn some twenty minutes from time and played no part in Monday’s game against Burnley due to a mild groin aggravation.
George Saville, however, hasn’t been so lucky at Millwall and is still awaiting a notable appearance off the bench, let alone a start. He was unused in the 1-0 win at Leicester City and not even in the matchday eighteen against Ipswich Town.
In League One, Billy Clifford and Sam Walker continue to try to keep Colchester’s head above relegation waters but went down 1-0 to Bournemouth at the start of the weekend in a result which keeps them firmly embroiled in the scrap. Walker made one or two important saves but Clifford was largely unable to get into a game controlled by the promotion-hunting visitors.
To that end, Clifford was an unused sub away to Oldham on Monday but Walker had another decent game as the U’s picked up another important point.
In the Netherlands, Tomas Kalas and Gael Kakuta played 90 minutes for Vitesse in a 2-1 win over Zwolle which keeps them in title contention. Both played well, with Kakuta especially standing out. His link-up play with Wilfried Bony was excellent and he was denied an assist when unselfishly squaring for his Ivorian team-mate to tap home. The linesman incorrectly flagged for offside, however.
Patrick van Aanholt missed out through injury, suffering a problem with his shoulder. There is no apparent timeline for his return, and his absence is a major blow for the Arnhem club.
Kenneth Omeruo played the full match for ADO Den Haag as they suffered an ignominious 4-0 loss away to RKC Waalwijk.
In Germany, whilst Bruma was being battered by Bayern, Kevin De Bruyne and Werder Bremen were stumbling to another middle-of-the-road result and performance by drawing 1-1 at Mainz. The Belgian schemer had an exceptional international spell with Belgium but struggled for influence at times upon his return to club football and picked up a booking to boot.
In Belgium, the Easter weekend round of fixtures signalled the start of the split league system, and therein the start of Zulte Waregem’s ten-game chance of winning their first ever title. Their 1-1 draw with Lokeren prevented them from usurping Anderlecht at the summit for now, but Thorgan Hazard played 90 minutes and will be a crucial figure for them if they are to at least qualify for next season’s Champions League.
In Spain, Thibaut Courtois was in fantastic form for Atlético Madrid against Valencia, making a string of important saves en route to earning a point.
Lucas Piazón played thirteen minutes as a substitute for Málaga away to Rayo Vallecano whilst in La Segunda, Ulises Dávila saw another 90 minutes for Sabadell, but their poor recent run continued with a 3-0 loss to Cordoba.
Jhon Pírez was not involved for Leganés in their 1-0 win over San Sebastián de los Reyes.
Matej Delac was in excellent form for Inter Zapresic in their 2-2 draw against Lokomotiva this weekend, making a string of outstanding saves in a performance which earned some man of the match plaudits.
In Brazil, Wallace started for Fluminense against Duque de Caxias and was a late sub against Macaé to signal his permanent return to their first team squad, having been exiled for some three months for reasons which remain unclear.
Cristian Cuevas scored for Chile in a recent Under-20s tournament in South America and has therefore not been available for O’Higgins in domestic action, not that he was in first team consideration in the first place.