Rhian Brewster had a tough debut at Swansea while two of Liverpool’s loanees found the net as winter breaks came to an end.
A full programme was back in operation, with the borrowed Reds either in competitive action or going through final preparations for the restart of domestic campaigns.
Some new loanees looked to hit the ground running after making recent moves, with Brewster, Isaac Christie-Davies and Herbie Kane all ready to make their mark.
One of the trio in particular achieved that aim.
A baptism of fire for Brewster…
There could not have been a bigger occasion for Brewster to make his Swansea bow.
Just four days after joining the Welsh club, the youngster was thrown straight into the starting XI for the fierce derby clash against arch-rivals Cardiff.
Brewster spearheaded a three-man attack, as boss Steve Cooper provided an instant show of faith in the 19-year-old who excelled under his management in the England under-17s’ World Cup win in 2017.
The teenager didn’t enjoy the debut he will have dreamed of—starved of service in a frantic grudge match which lacked quality and unsurprisingly ended 0-0.
Brewster did complete the full 90 minutes which was a big positive, and the experience of a full-blooded derby on the ruthless Championship stage will have provided a great learning curve.
Most encouragingly, he showed his willingness to challenge and won seven aerial duels, the joint-most of any Swansea player—level with centre-back Ben Cabango.
Christie-Davies’ debut goal & another for Ojo…
As winter breaks come to an end around Europe, certain Reds were in friendly action as preparations for the domestic restarts ramped up.
One of those was under-23s midfielder Christie-Davies, who made his first outing for Belgian side Cercle Brugge and marked the occasion with a goal in a 3-3 draw with Bundesliga side Augsburg.
Just seven minutes into his non-competitive bow, Christie-Davies—on as a second-half sub—struck to bring his side level at 2-2 with a crisp finish inside the box.
It was Cercle Brugge’s final warmup fixture and it’s hugely encouraging that Christie-Davies hit the ground running.
Now to bring that form to the serious action against Antwerp next Sunday.
Christie-Davies wasn’t the only man on the scoresheet, as Sheyi Ojo also found the net in Rangers’ 6-1 rout of Lokomotiv Moscow.
Ojo scored the Gers’ second and it was a brilliant finish, as he curled into the top corner from the edge of the box on his weaker right foot.
— Rangers Football Club (@RangersFC) January 11, 2020
This will hopefully give Ojo a timely confidence boost to rediscover his best form upon the restart after a difficult first half to the season at Ibrox.
Final preparations didn’t go quite as smoothly for Loris Karius at Besiktas.
The German endured another moment to forget, as he scored a dreadful own goal in his side’s 2-2 draw with fellow Turkish outfit Altinordu FK.
A cross delivered from the left should have been a routine catch for Karius, but he spilled the ball and it crept in at the near post.
— Sport Social (@TheSportSocial) January 10, 2020
Despite playing only the first half, Karius also conceded the second goal before making way, capping off a far-from-ideal warmup outing before the restart.
Best to get them out of the way now, Loris.
Elsewhere, Marko Grujic featured as Hertha Berlin beat Polish outfit Pogon Szczecin 1-0 in a behind-closed-doors match ahead of their Bundesliga return with Bayern Munich.
There were worrying signs for Taiwo Awoniyi ahead of the second half of the season, as he went unused in Mainz’s last friendly despite practically the whole squad playing some part.
A winless weekend for the remaining four Reds…
In among Liverpool’s hectic festive schedule, Kane completed a switch to Hull City where he will play out the remainder of the campaign.
It represents a good move for the midfielder, who steps up to the Championship having excelled in League One with Doncaster last season under the guidance of Grant McCann.
At the KC Stadium Kane has now reunited with McCann, who will seek to bring the best from the 21-year-old as he drives Hull towards a push for the play-offs.
Kane has had a solid opening, making successive starts—the first in a 3-2 FA Cup win over Rotherham, followed by an hour-long outing in a 1-0 loss to Fulham on Saturday.
Happy to have made my home debut for @HullCity yesterday but a disappointing result that we are hoping to bounce back from??
— Herbie kane (@herbiekane) January 12, 2020
Those two quick-fire appearances will have helped Kane settle in and now he will look to prove his capabilities at Championship level.
There would be no winning comeback for the ‘keeper as the Terriers suffered a poor 2-1 loss, leaving Grabara without a clean sheet in six games.
Ovie Ejaria made his 24th appearance of the season in Reading’s dramatic 1-1 draw with Nottingham Forest, which saw both goals scored in added time.
Ejaria was withdrawn before the late drama unfolded due to injury, leaving the midfielder with three goals and the same number of assists from his 24 outings so far this season.
Liverpool’s Loanees This Weekend
- Kamil Grabara (Huddersfield) – 90 mins vs. Barnsley
- Ovie Ejaria (Reading) – 80 mins vs. Nottingham Forest
- Herbie Kane (Hull) – 61 mins vs. Fulham
- Rhian Brewster (Swansea) – 90 mins vs. Cardiff
- Harry Wilson (Bournemouth) – 70 mins vs. Watford
- Isaac Christie-Davies (Cercle Brugge) – 30 mins vs. Augsburg, goal
- Sheyi Ojo (Rangers) – 45 mins vs. Lokomotiv Moscow, goal
- Loris Karius (Besiktas) – 45 mins vs. Altinordu FK
- Marko Grujic (Hertha Berlin) – 60 mins vs. Pogon Szczecin