The 12 best loans in the Football League this season

This diamond dozen have given their parent clubs welcome food for thought, writes Mike Holden...

1) Adam Armstrong (Coventry, from Newcastle)

Armstrong is a deadly finisher from all angles and distances, and Tony Mowbray wasn’t pulling the wool over anyone’s eyes when he suggested that recalling the striker wouldn't be the answer to Newcastle’s goalscoring problems. The Magpies have their 18-year-old hotshot on 24-hour recall but the Sky Blues are hopeful that he will continue to wreak havoc among League One defences until January at least. If he maintains his current rate of a goal almost every game, he might yet reach 20 before any decision has to be made.

2) Hiram Boateng (Plymouth, from Crystal Palace)

Derek Adams has unearthed a gem in this 19-year-old Wandsworth-born midfielder and Plymouth are reaping the benefits as they set the early pace in League Two. For Boateng, the transition from under-21 football with Crystal Palace to the demands of playing week in week out in the professional game has been seamless. His high-stamina displays in front of the back four provide a solid platform for others to go and express themselves.

3) Matthew Clarke (Portsmouth, from Ipswich)

A cultured defender who can also operate as a holding midfielder, Clarke is a perfect fit for Paul Cook’s desire to play out from the back and the 19-year-old was handed a new two-year contract by Ipswich last month on the back of his early performances at Fratton Park. Playing as a left-sided centre-back alongside the right-footed Christian Burgess, his presence gives Pompey a natural balance considered a luxury for most teams at League Two level.

4) Diego Fabbrini (Middlesbrough, from Watford)

An eye-catching talent who gets bums off seats with his jinking runs, Fabbrini’s experimental flair isn’t always flavour of the month with managers but he could be the perfect niche player for Aitor Karanka. Last season, Middlesbrough had a real problem rescuing anything from games that were going against them, scoring just four equalisers in over 11 hours when trailing. In these scenarios, Fabbrini’s ability to create something out of nothing could be the difference between automatic promotion or another play-off ordeal.

5) Ryan Fraser (Ipswich, from Bournemouth)

The 21-year-old left-sided midfielder has played an instrumental role in Ipswich’s transformation from wily pragmatists to great entertainers, his standout displays of pace and trickery landing him the Football League’s August Young Player of the Month award. Not only is the former Aberdeen youngster a willing provider, averaging two key passes per game, he has almost doubled his career goals tally in just nine outings for the Tractor Boys with vital strikes against Brentford, Preston and Bristol City.

6) Michael Harriman (Wycombe, from QPR)

The QPR man is now in his second spell at Adams Park three seasons after making his full debut in Wanderers colours. A right-back by trade, he excelled when deployed further forward last month, scoring both goals in a 2-1 win over Hartlepool. And the scoring touch hadn’t deserted him when he returned to his usual position, as he netted the only goal – and what a goal – in a 1-0 win over Cambridge. Those heroics earned him a League Two Player of the Month nomination for September.

1:48 for Harriman's cracker

7) Callum Harriott (Colchester, from Charlton)

Colchester have bagged 16 goals in eight matches since picking up this left-sided raider from Charlton, his presence in the Weston Homes dressing room also playing a part in convincing ex-Addick Marvin Sordell to join the club. Together with Gavin Massey on the right and George Moncur running from deep, the U’s are looking irresistible as an attacking force. Take one of those elements away and the balance might be lost, making Tony Humes’ men much easier to defend against.

8) Michael Hector (Reading, from Chelsea)

The Royals were helpless to prevent their emerging centre-back joining Chelsea in a £4m deal on transfer deadline day but Steve Clarke pulled off a coup in persuading his former club to let him keep the player until the end of the season. A late developer who didn’t break into the first team until 18 months ago, the full extent of the 23-year-old’s potential shone through on Copa America and Gold Cup duty with Jamaica during the summer.

can't believe today

A photo posted by Michael Hector (@big_hec__) on

9) Emyr Huws (Huddersfield, from Wigan)

Huddersfield aren’t renowned for goalscoring midfielders but four strikes in late September have put this promising Welshman in contention to become only the sixth non-forward in 40 years to hit double figures for the Terriers. Deemed surplus to requirements at Wigan, Huws had no trouble securing a return to the Championship after getting lost in the malaise created by three different managers at the DW Stadium. With Euro 2016 firmly in his sights, Huws can be the driving force that keeps Town out of relegation trouble.

10) Uche Ikpeazu (Port Vale, from Watford)

The departure of Tom Pope left some big boots to fill at Vale Park but this 6ft 3in targetman has eased most concerns with some excellent hold-up play and five goals in 10 starts for the Valiants. The goals are a bonus because Ikpeazu’s value mostly comes from the work that goes unnoticed. The 20-year-old is carrying a big weight of responsibility and Rob Page is trying to use him sparingly, but his importance to the team is inescapable.

0:17 for Ikpeazu's effort vs Sheffield United

11) Sheyi Ojo (Wolves, from Liverpool)

The sale of Bakary Sako to Crystal Palace left Wolves with a void in wide areas and Kenny Jackett’s attempts to experiment with various narrow formations proved relatively fruitless. So Ojo’s determination to grasp any opportunity with both hands has been heartwarming. With Wanderers returning to the 4-2-3-1 system that brought the best out of their squad last season, the Liverpool youngster’s blistering pace and willingness to run at defenders could be a key asset in the coming months.

12) Prince-Desir Gouano (Bolton, from Atalanta)

This all-action centre-back tops the Championship charts for interceptions and his capture on a year-long deal from Atalanta could prove invaluable as Bolton struggle in the face of diminishing resources. Only 21, the Frenchman’s pace enables the Whites to get their defensive line further up the pitch. Neil Lennon has already fielded nine different defenders this term, in a back three and a back four – but Prince remains a constant. After 10 matches, he is the only outfield player to have played every minute of every game.

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