6 of the best Football League stars on loan from Premier League teams
1. Tammy Abraham (Bristol City, on loan from Chelsea)
I can try and make him better outside the box but when it comes to that intuition of moving towards the goal when everyone else is moving away, it’s Lineker-esque
With 12 goals in 19 Championship appearances at the tender age of 19: it’s fair to say Tammy Abraham's destined for big things on the evidence of his introduction to the professional game this season. Standing at 6ft 2in, the Chelsea loanee's not your archetypal penalty-box predator - but that's exactly what he is. And while it’s a godsend for Lee Johnson the manager to possess a player blessed with such talent, it's proving to be a challenge for Lee Johnson the coach.
"It’s that natural instinct, you can’t teach that," he says. "I can try and make him better outside the box but when it comes to that intuition of moving towards the goal when everyone else is moving away, it’s Lineker-esque." With Bristol City sitting pretty in the top six with a third of the season gone, a trip to Wembley next May seems like a realistic target. Johnson, though, is looking beyond that for Abraham, believing that the young striker has the ability to make the full England squad for Russia 2018.
2. Aaron Mooy (Huddersfield, on loan from Manchester City)
A fully-fledged Australia international with 20 caps and five goals to his name, the midfielder was magnificent over two seasons with A-League outfit Melbourne City
At 26 years old, Mooy's something of a rarity in the loan market: Huddersfield aren’t getting potential, they’re getting the finished article. A fully-fledged Australia international with 20 caps and five goals to his name, the midfielder was magnificent over two seasons with A-League outfit Melbourne City, breaking a competition record with 21 assists last term.
For all of the talk surrounding David Wagner and his gegenpressing ideology, Mooy’s ability to control the tempo of matches and still pitch in with killer passes from a holding role accounts for the lion’s share of Huddersfield's improvement this year. The big question now is whether he can remain as effective throughout a 46-game season, although a return to his favoured No.10 position could provide Mooy with a new lease of life.
Mooy scores against Leeds
3. Josh Cullen (Bradford, on loan from West Ham)
The term 'impact player' usually refers to those who weigh in with goals and assists, but Cullen's inclusion guarantees his side a foothold in any game
Some say the art of tackling is dying out, but this Republic of Ireland Under-21 international is stacking up a wealth of evidence to the contrary. The term 'impact player' usually refers to those who weigh in with goals and assists, but Cullen's inclusion guarantees his side a foothold in any game; while he's perfectly capable of administering a crunching tackle or two, he more frequently nips in to win the ball before it arrives at the feet of its intended target.
He's tidy in possession, too, which is no mean feat considering the amount of running he gets through. Phil Parkinson first brought Cullen to Valley Parade last January and then tried to tempt him to Bolton when he switched jobs in the summer, but the 20-year-old decided to stick with what he knew and returned to Bradford at the start of the current campaign. He's been essential to the Bantams ever since his first appearance, with his temporary employers amassing 56 points from the 28 league fixtures he's started.
4. Charlie Colkett (Bristol Rovers, on loan from Chelsea)
The widely-shared clip of a sensational backheeled through-ball in last month's 3-3 draw at MK Dons says everything about Colkett's technique, but in-game intelligence is his greatest asset
Arguably the jewel in the crown of Chelsea’s academy, Colkett was used sparingly by Darrell Clarke in the last first months of the season, until the Bristol Rovers boss found it impossible to leave him out of his starting XI for any longer. Playing at the tip of a midfield diamond, his highlights reel this season looks as though it’s been cut from more than 442 minutes worth of footage, with his ability to pick a killer pass frequently wowing supporters at the Memorial Stadium.
The widely-shared clip of a sensational backheeled through-ball in last month's 3-3 draw at MK Dons says everything about Colkett's technique, but in-game intelligence is his greatest asset. He reads the game around him brilliantly, is able to control the tempo of his team's play and can score goals from outside the penalty area; in almost every department, Colkett's a fantastic talent.
Colkett splits the MK Dons defence in gorgeous fashion
5. Jake Clarke-Salter (Bristol Rovers, on loan from Chelsea)
It's easy to see why John Terry likes Clarke-Salter: commanding in the air and brave in the tackle, the 6ft 2in centre-half also poses a significant threat at set-pieces
Labelled the next John Terry by none other than Terry himself, Clarke-Salter's been at the heart of Chelsea’s defence for three successive FA Youth Cup triumphs, most recently as captain. It's easy to see why the Blues' senior skipper is such a big admirer: commanding in the air and brave in the tackle, the 6ft 2in centre-half also poses a significant threat at set-pieces, much like the former England international.
Loan deals are always a two-way street, though, and Chelsea have found the ideal home for the teenager in the southwest. Playing regular first-team football for Bristol Rovers in the third tier has helped to toughen Clarke-Salter up, with manager Clarke promising to send the defender and Colkett back to Stamford Bridge as men.
6. Alex Kiwomya (Crewe, on loan from Chelsea)
The professional game hasn’t been plain sailing for Kiwomya, who had frustrating loan spells at Barnsley and Fleetwood before finally finding his feet at Crewe.
"He’s an explosive player but he gets tired very quickly," manager Steve Davis said of the 20-year-old winger. "Because of the pace he runs at, that endurance isn’t there yet. We have to try and fit that into his training."
Told he would only be used as an impact substitute until he reached the required standards, Kiwomya was kept back for extra fitness session back in August. The additional work paid off; the wide man's since become essential to Alex, with his electric pace ensuring the side's pair of 30-plus strikers don't get too isolated at the top of the pitch. Excluding Checkatrade Trophy games, Crewe have scored 20 goals in 80 minutes with Kiwomya on the pitch and just four in 790 minutes when he’s not.