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End of Season Loan Watch

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With so many players out on loan as some stage of the season, Liverpool have had nearly a full squad of players around the country and Europe at times. At the start of the season Rafa Benitez commented how the Barclays Reserve Premier League was not going to help a young player develop in a significant way. With only 18 games in the reserve league schedule, meaning only one or two games a month coupled with the likelihood that one of these games will get postponed in the months of December/January due to waterlogged conditions…. Many reserve team players left Melwood to further their career and rise to the physical and mental challenges of playing first team football week in/week out moving to the lower divisions both at home and abroad.

Here’s how they got on:

Craig Lindfield (Notts County / Chester)

Craig Lindfield has been on loan at Notts County and Chester this season enjoying a very good spell at both clubs. He joined Notts County on a 4 week loan deal in November and immediately made a good impresssion scoring on his debut against Accrington Stanley – just 3 days after joining them. He volleyed home a wonder goal helping the side to victory. It was painful for Accrington Stanley boss, John Coleman to see his side lose to a Lindfield goal as he had been tracking the striker for his own side: “We have been monitoring him for 18 months and then he popped up with a goal like that” bemoaned Coleman.

Lindfield played only 4 games for Notts County and scored the 1 goal. Manager Ian McParland commented: “I have been absolutely delighted with Craig. It must have been a culture shock coming from Liverpool down to League Two when you look how they are treated up there, but he has been fantastic and a real credit. “Had we been a striker down I think we would have looked to keep him for another month, but we are trying to look after the budget carefully and we feel it might be best to save funds for January. Craig has been terrific for us and he has been a real credit. We wish him all the very best and thank him for all his efforts whilst with us.”

Lindfield then joined Chester City in January and made 7 appearances and came on as sub on 2 occasions during his short career at the Deva Stadium. City boss Bobby Williamson commented “He did well during his time with us but his loan has finigshed and we cant extend the loan or replace him with another loan player because we are still restricted by the salary capping rules. There was nothing I could do to try and keep Craig.”

Paul Anderson (Swansea)

Paul Anderson has had a sensational season at Swansea. He’s dazzled and delighted the Liberty faithful with his lighning pace, exquisit dribbling skills, and delightful goals. Despite missing 2 months of the season through injury, Paul has made 33 appearances for Swansea and grabbed 10 goals along the way with 25 of those appearances coming in the league. He has become a fans favourite and the Swans manager has publicly admitted on several occasions that he would like to keep the winger. Martinez hailed his goal v Leyton Orient as one of the team’s goals of the season.

As recognition for his fantastic displays, Paul was presented with the Young Player of the Year award at the Swans annual awards dinner, just 2 days later he got his hands on the League trophy and a Championmship winners medal Last week Anderson commented: “I was made up to get the award. It is always nice to be recognised by the supporters. It has been a long season ‘“ it’s been physically and mentally challenging. But playing my first year with a team that has been so successful has been really enjoyable although I understand it probably won’t be the same next year. “I didn’t know much about Swansea before I went, but they are a massive club. They play great football and I think they will do well in the Championship. “I don’t know whether I will end up back there on loan, but I know for a fact they won’t be relegated.”

“I know there are quite a lot of clubs interested, but I’ll just have to wait and see what happens. “Hopefully by the end of May we will have things sorted out and I can go and enjoy my summer. “I would like to stay at Liverpool and give it a shot next season, but they want me to do a year in the Championship and see if I can step up to the next level.”

Nikolay Mihaylov (FC Twente)

Nikolay Mihaylov, 19, moved to FC Twente in the Netherlands from Liverpool on loan after failing to be awarded a work permit to join Liverpool last summer. Last March, the Bulgaria Under-21 goalkeeper spoke of his frustration at the bit-part role he has at Twente, where his route to the first team is blocked by veteran keeper Sander Boschker. “I do not know when I will make my official debut for Twente as the policy of the club is quite strange,” he complained. “The first choice goalkeeper is 37-years-old but is still motivated to play. If I remain at Twente in the next season I will fight with him for the starting spot on equal terms. Coach Fred Rutten has told me that if we both show the same level I will play because I am much younger.”

Last month, It was been reported that Mihaylov, the son of Bulgaria goalkeeping great Boris Mihaylov, has extended his loan agreement with FC Twente. The 19 year old doesn’t hold and EU passport and will remain with Twente for another 2 seasons until the end of the 2009/10 season.

Miki Roque joined FC Twente on a season long loan deal last Summer. According to the official Xerez site, he’s only played one game for the first team there all season. Xerez were battling relegation all season in the league…… Back in December there were rumours that Xerez had ended Miki Roques loan deal but there’s no sign of his return to Anfield…… Only 1 game in the Spanish 2nd division is extremely dissapointing, It seems like a waste of great potential, had great hopes for him after he made his Liverpool first-team debut as a substitute in a Champions League group stage match against Galatasaray in December 2006.

Jack Hobbs (Scunthorpe)

Jack Hobbs spent the 2nd half of the season on loan at Championship side Scunthorpe. Hobbs played 7 games and also had 2 sub appearances for Scunthorpe but unfortunately could not prevent them from getting relegated. Hobbs was a regular starter for the Irons when he first joined them, but the form of Andy Butler and Izzy Irekspen in the last few games of the season is probably why he did not figure towards the end coupled with the fact Scunthorpe were reluctant to rely on an inexperienced player at the back as they battled to avoid relegation.

Hobbs made his debut playing the full 90 minutes in a 2-0 defeat to Burnley back in January. He was then on the bench for their next game against Charlton, but came on in the 75th minute and made quite a good impression helping Scunthorpe to a clean sheet to win 1-0. Hobbs then started their next match and again helped them to a clean sheet in their 0-0 draw with Sheffield United, he played alongside Andy Crosby at centre back and was outstanding. Scunthorpe played for 84 minutes with only 10 men and his and Crosby’s performances that day were one of the reasons Scunthorpe came away with a point.

Hobbs was soon being hailed as a pivotal transfer in Scunthorpe’s quest to avoid relegation. Here’s what Hobbs had to say after his first few games at Scunthorpe; “I’m settling in really well, a lot of the boys and the gaffer are really welcoming and I live quite close to a few of the lads as well, which is nice. Everything is short and sharp in training, we’ve got a good team and I think we’re definitely capable of staying up. In the Championship I get to come up against experienced forwards and play in front of big crowds with good atmospheres. It’s much better than being in the reserves at Liverpool.”

Hobbs had a fantastic start for Scunthorpe but things were about to get better for the young lad. In their next game Hopbbs won man of the match on the official Scunthorpe website after an assured display in defence in their 1-0 defeat to Bristol City. In the 2nd half, he was moved to right back.

In the following game on the 15th February, Hobbs scored in the 3-2 defeat to Stoke. An outswinging corner from the left was met by the head of Hobbs and he directed the ball past Simonsen from inside the six-yard box. The next game Scunthorpe were held to a 1-1 draw with Southampton however, Hobbs had to withdraw at half time because of illness. He struggled with a virus throughout the opening half and was sick during the interval. However, Hobbs recovered in time for the Irons next game at home to Chris Coleman’s Coventry. The young centre back played the full 90 minutes as Scunthorpe earned a 2-1 win. Hobbs was later named in the Championship team of the week after his solid display.

Hobbs was having a fantastic start to his loan spell, and was a regular starter in the Irons back four. On the 8th March, Hobbs once again started playing the full 90 minutes against Hull, but could do little to prevent a 2-0 defeat. Hobbs was again named man of the match on the official Scunthorpe website after another fine display at right back.

However, Scunthorpe found themselves struggling at the bottom of the Championship and in the following game Hobbs started on the bench in a 1-0 win over Plymouth but came off the bench in the 26th minute and was very solid at the back helping the team to a clean sheet. The following game Hobbs was an unused sub in their 2-1 defeat to Wolves.

Hobbs missed the following 2 games against Ipswich and Leicester due to illness, he returned to the Irons squad against Sheffield Wednesday on the 5th April but was an unused sub. On the 9th April Hobbs was selected in the Scunthorpe reserves and was an unused sub for their final 4 games of the season and was left to watch Scunthorpe’s demise to League 1 from the bench.

Although playing out of position at right back for the best part of his loan, Hobbs will have gained valuable experience at Scunthorpe. Last week Hobbs commented: He said: “I wasn’t down about it. I was obviously going to be down the pecking order at Liverpool and I think it was the right decision to go out on loan. I was looking forward to playing every week.” Making a handful of appearances in the Liverpool first team, Hobbs feels it has been decent season and is prepared for an important summer. “I’m sure something will happen this summer. They will either extend my contract or sell me. I want to stay, but ultimately it comes down to playing first-team football.I’m at the age where I want to get out there and make a name for myself. It would be ideal if that was at Liverpool, but we’ll have to wait and see.”

Danny Guthrie (Bolton)

Danny Guthrie joined Premiership strugglers Bolton Wanderers at the start of the season on a season long loan deal. Following on from his impressive loan at Southampton last year, Guthrie moved up to Premiership football with relative ease. Guthrie has been in good form for the Trotters and has put in some eye catching man of the match performances for them. He’s featured in 35 games for them this season and popped up with one goal for them in the 2-1 win over Fulham in the Carling Cup.

Guthrie has also made 7 appearances for Gary Megsons side in the UEFA Cup. He was in magnificent form with some outstanding performances most notably against Manchester United in the Premiership and against Bayern Munich in the UEFA Cup. From his Bolton displays, he is always seeking possession and shields the ball well. His range of passing is good and he brought fluidity to the team. Without being particularly fast, Guthrie is elusive and adept at finding space and escaping his marker. Bolton have shown an interest to keep him whilst both Sunderland and Fulham have also expressed an interest.

Godwin Antwi (Hartlepool)

Godwin Antwi, followed another central defender Miki Roque, going out on another season loan loan deal. Godwin joined Hartlepool in League 1. Antwi has feature in 31 games for Harlepool with 27 of those coming in the league and scored one goal earlier in the season.

Here’s what one Harlepool fan had to say of him: “OK – not premiership material but on the few occasions I saw him, he appeared to me as a strong and creative player, albeit showing inexperience. Man of the match away at Cheltenham; Swindon away carried the defence into the break at 1-0 up before they left him completely high and dry in the second half.I’m tired of hearing about Budtz, Lee Barrett and Antwi being held as scapegoats for those experienced defenders who quite honestly haven’t set any sort of example this season to any of those three inexperienced players. Collins wasn’t brought in to particularly plug any holes – he was brought in to supply some leadership in defence which was painfully lacking ( and certainly not Antwi’s job) which he did when he managed to play. Having said that, he didn’t set that much of an example in the Southend match either.”

Another Hartlepool fan commented “For the first few games of the season Antwi was our best defender. This form somewhat peaked out though, he was pushed to an unfamiliar right back position. Saying that the performance he gave away to Southend at RB was assured. I don’t think he will make the grade at Liverpool, especially with the signing on Skrtel. Antwi gave alot to the Hartlepool cause however, he always gave 100% in the Blue and White shirt, and done alot for the Community throughout the season, regularly visiting Hospitals and Schools around the area promoting the club at Charity events (something I have never seen before in any of our previous loan signings) and something I praise him for. He certainly has a future in the game, but at what level is still undecided!”

While another fan commented: “When we signed Antwi on loan I thought it was a hell of a signing. I remember him playing against us for A/Stanley & I thought he was the best defender on the pitch that day. But watching him this season, sometimes your heart is in your mouth. He is liable to drop you right in it or produce a beautiful piece of skill. I really hope he will be successful at Liverpool because he seems a nice lad, but I think it might be a step too far in the Premiership.”

Robbie Threlfall and Ryan Flynn both joined Hereford on loan. Flynn joined on a months loan deal at the end of November, however, injuries hampered his loan spell and he returned in December failing to make an impression on Bulls boss Graham Turner. However, Threlfall also joined Hereford on an initial one month loan deal in October, but he impressed so much, Herefords manager Graham Turner acted swiftly to extend his loan stay for the remainder of the season. Robbie has a great loan spell with Hereford helping them to automatic promotion to League 1. However, he had a couple of injuries after Christmas which limited his appearances. He was outstanding and solid at the back for them until the Bulls FA Cup tie against Hartlepool in December when he suffered an ankle injury which would lead to him being on the sidelines for 2 months. Threlfall made an immense impression on the Hereford fans most notably his performance in their FA Cup giantkilling victory over Leeds United.

Anthony Le Tallec joined French Cub Le Mans on a season long loan deal with a view to a permanent deal. Le Tallec has been in very good form for Le Mans. In the middle of April, he grabbed 3 goals in as many games for them… He’s played 22 games for them scoring 5 goals along the way!

Adam Hammill had a fantastic season on loan at Dunferline in the 2006/2007 season and there were fantastic reports coming back to Liverpool after that loan spell. However, after his season long loan spell at Southampton this season, the reports have been as gushing! Hammill has only played 16 games for the Saints and failed to score for them. There have been spells where he has shown glimpses of the old Steve McManaman, however, his games for Southampton have been extremely limited. The Saints manager Pearson didn’t seem to rate him very hoghly coupled with the fact Southampton were lying in the relegation zone for most of the season, Pearson called upon his more experienced players for most of the season. He was unable to get a look in early on in the season and when he did actually make his breakthrough he managed to pick up niggling injuries.

Here’s what some fans have been saying: “He is a good player who, in my opinion would do better if he was loaned to us again this year. He is not premiership class yet but has the potential to be a good championship player next season. He is quick and tricky and there is often end product which cannot be said for all wingers.
His faults, however, are that he driffts in and out of games and often doesn’t track back enough (or does it badly). The other frustrating thing about him is he seems to drop his head to quickly when things arn’t going well. I like to see him back here next season though.”

Another fan commented: “I agree, Hammill did well when he played, but in my opinion didn’t live up to the pre-season hype. He is definitely a confidence player though, needs regular games and plenty of support behind him. He’s definitely a prospect for the future and I would welcome him back with open arms for another season, he’s the type of young hungary player we need to compete in the Championship. And like saintsational said he can bring you another element to your game, speed, trickery and the ability to attack full backs.”

Scott Carson (Aston Villa)

Scott Carson has had a fantastic season on loan at Aston Villa and has featured in 35 games for them. He impressed so much for Martin O’Neill’s side, he earned his full England debut in a friendly against Austria on 16 November 2007 where he kept a clean sheet. In his competitive debut against Croatia on 21 November 2007, he conceded three goals as England were defeated and eliminated from Euro 2008, Carson being held particularly culpable for the first goal…. Carson has done extremely well for Aston Villa considering his age. Earlier in the season Carson commented: “What I want now is to be settled for the next 5-10 years. I’ve been on loan a lot over the last couple of seasons.It’s not easy when you keep moving up and down the country. It would be nice to settle at a club that I like where the fans like me. I’ve settled in well at Aston Villa over the past few months. Everyone has welcomed me and that has been a big help. I think the clubs have agreed something where, if everyone is happy, my move could be made permanent and it is something I would welcome. I would prefer to establish myself as a number one at Villa.” “I dont feel Ive done a great deal wrong so far and, if I feel I should have done better, I will be the first person to admit it. I’m not one for coming up with excuses.”

Martin O’Neill is delighted with the progress made by Carson, who has replaced Thomas Sorensen as his first choice keeper. He said “Scott has done very well. I’ve been very impressed with him. He is improving as a keeper. He is very young but he has got a terrific attitude and wants to improve.”

However, there have been some players who went out on loan at the beginning of the season and will not be returning…..

* Jimmy Ryan went on loan to Shrewsbury and signed a permanent deal at the beginning of the year.

Lee Peltier (Yoevil)

* James Smith went out on loan to Stockport and at the end of December he signed a permanent deal with them
* Yeovil Town completed the permanent signing of Lee Peltier. The 20-year-old midfielder penned a three-year contract at Huish Park after The Glovers agreed a nominal fee.
* Also there is alot of speculation that Besian Idrizaj has returned to Austria to play with Wacker Tirol after turning down a loan deal with Oldham Athletic in the tranfer window…….. Besian had a spell with Crystal Palace earlier in the season.

The 2007/08 season has been a succesful season for most of the lads out on loan which has seen some players excel with others doing not so well.

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