Loan Watch: Full-backs in form

Thursday 06 October 2022 10:42

It has been a largely successful midweek for Manchester United's young loanees, with two of our full-backs particularly catching the attention.

Alvaro Fernandez continues to impress at Preston North End, following up a good display in a 0-0 draw at Sunderland with a Man-of-the-Match performance in a 1-0 home triumph over Steve Bruce's West Brom.

The Spaniard set up the winner with a superb cross, finished off by Emil Riis, and picked up the individual accolade after being described by Sky Sports' Don Goodman as "brilliant". Another of the channel's pundits, our former skipper Roy Keane, was among the crowd at Deepdale and will have been impressed by the left wing-back's output.

Next up for Preston is a tough trip to Norwich City, who have moved level on points with Championship leaders Sheffield United.

Ethan Laird goes from strength to strength with QPR.

Another side in the promotion shake-up is Queens Park Rangers, who sit in fourth spot after a superb 1-0 victory over Sheffield United on Tuesday night.

Manager Michael Beale was full of praise for Ethan Laird, who supplied the assist for Chris Willock's match-winning goal.

"Ethan Laird has been absolutely fantastic this season," said Beale in West London Sport. "In the first half, Jayden Bogle and Rhys Norrington-Davies gave him a torrid time, so I challenged him at half-time. He did better in the second half and went and got an assist.

"So, at half-time, we had to have a bit of a sort-out in terms of how we were approaching the game.

"At this moment in time, the boy is absolutely delighted to be here. He's loving it. You can tell that, on and off the pitch.

​ "We’re absolutely over the moon with him and I think Man United are delighted," added Beale. "He had a host of clubs [after him] and Man United really wanted him to come to QPR as well.

“How we envisaged it going, before we signed the loan agreement, is exactly how it’s going at the moment, he’s a lovely boy as well. There’s nothing not to like about Ethan Laird.”

Elsewhere in the division, Amad made his first start for Sunderland, in a challenging centre-forward position for the Black Cats, with regular strikers Ross Stewart and Ellis Simms both injured.

A second successive goalless draw panned out at the Stadium of Light, with Blackpool holding firm. Amad should have pulled the trigger when presented with a chance towards the end of the first half, when the hosts enjoyed their best spell of pressure, and he was withdrawn in the 57th minute when manager Tony Mowbray made his first change.

It may have came moments after the Ivory Coast international appeared to hurt his elbow, following a strong challenge but, although the young Red also did well to put Jack Clarke away for an opportunity that, ultimately, came to nothing. Mowbray did offer some words of advice to the 20-year-old afterwards.

Amad has been encouraged to work on his end product by Tony Mowbray.
"He's just a young boy really, but he's supremely talented," Mowbray told the press on Wearside, after the stalemate.

"To see his touch, and see how fast and direct he is, it's a lovely thing to watch on the training pitch. You see how talented he is, and you can see why he's at Man United, but you can also understand why he's out on loan, to develop the core materials you need to be a competitive footballer. He needs to find a better end product.

"He has all this soft, lovely feet and brilliant skills, but he needs to shoot when he gets in the box. When he sees the goal, he needs to shoot, and he needs to add goals and assists to his name. It's not enough just to be a lovely footballer who can dribble and go past people, but never have an end product. That's the message, yet it's not a simple one.

"You have to keep repeating it to him all the time – we have to drill into him that we want him to shoot and get in the box. Can he score a scruffy goal, can he get a rebound off the goalie? We have to get him into those positions but, when it all clicks for him, he's going to be some footballer because he's got every attribute you want."

Hannibal is growing accustomed to the rough and tumble of the second tier.

Hannibal came on at half-time in Birmingham City's 1-0 defeat to Middlesbrough.

The Tunisia midfielder was unable to help his side take anything from the trip to Teesside and the result ended a run of four unbeaten games for the Midlanders. It means Blues lie in 19th place, one below Boro, ahead of the visit of Bristol City on Saturday.

"I just want to play games because that’s how we learn, that’s how we improve, when we play games," he told Birmingham Live. "When we are around the team and come on, 30 or 20 minutes, that’s how we learn to manage the game, we win some experience.

"I am very patient, I wait for my time and, hopefully, I will be ready when I get my chance. Everyone told me it’s physical and, as you can see, I am not the biggest guy but I think I can manage to win some duels and win some fouls. It is hard but I will get used to it.”

In the National League, Charlie Wellens was an unused substitute during Oldham Athletic's 2-2 draw with Scunthorpe United.