The international break is a good time to sit back, relax, and enjoy the football of the lower leagues because they never take a break. During the break, I was able to take inventory of some of the youngsters out on loan along with the veteran Scott Hogan to see their development and in the case of the latter if his resale value is picking up.
For those who need a reminder, there are 7 players out on loan: Jake Doyle-Hayes, Callum O’ Hare, Matija Sarkic, Rushian Hepburn-Murphy, James Bree, Andre Green, and Scott Hogan.
Jake Doyle-Hayes – Cheltenham Town
Doyle-Hayes is a former youth prospect who preferrers to play a deep lying midfielder role who can make plays - like Douglas Luiz. However, another comparison he’s picked up is to the great Spanish midfield Xavi, Cheltenham fans have been calling him Xavi Doyle-Hayes. Given his performances it is fairly easy to see why, the Irish midfielder has started 10 out of 10 games so far and has a goal and two assists from the deep lying role. The former Aston Villa U-23 player has led the League 2 side into 6th place and they currently sit in the playoff spots. The Irish Xavi was also named Cheltenham’s Player of the Month of September and is clearly flourishing in League 2.
Callum O’ Hare – Coventry City
Callum O’ Hare is an electrifying playmaker and has practicing his trade close to home in Coventry. During the start of the campaign O’ Hare was confined to a bit part role, but this soon changed when in a combined 30 minutes of play the gamechanger scored two goals in two games to win Coventry 4 points. Now the young Englishman is firmly nailed on in the starting XI and the supporters sing his name. O’ Hare has gotten his team into 7th place in League 1 just missing out on the playoff spots at the moment by goal differential. Unfortunately, O’ Hare’s loan spell is not all roses, the young playmaker has to ply his trade in St. Andrews, home of Birmingham City, which is something I would not wish on my worst enemy.
Matija Sarkic – Livingston (Scottish Premiership)
Sarkic is a young goalkeeper who has looked impressive behind closed doors by all accounts and may be the next big thing between the sticks for Villa. Before this past weekend Sarkic looked alright but not overwhelmingly impressive on the stat sheet with 4 starts, 3 goals allowed, and a clean sheet in the Scottish Cup. However, in a game against Rangers, the young keeper had 5 saves and the goal that was allowed came off of a deflected shot. This start, combined with a lacklustre appearance by the keeper in front of him, allowed the opportunity for Sarkic’s first League Start.
In a baptism of fire, Sarkic was thrust between the sticks against Scottish giants Celtic. The young keeper was unmoving however as he kept a clean sheet against the league leaders and got an assist to boot. This is especially impressive as Celtic had been scoring 3 goals a game on average up until that point. Ben Banks, journalist at Not the Old Firm, said, “It was an assured performance of maturity and confidence under immense pressure. He’s not only played a part in a big victory, he was one of the main men.” It is yet to be seen if Sarkic will claim the number 1 role for Livingston, but he has certainly impressed.
Rushian Hepburn-Murphy – Tranmere
One loanee who has not gotten used to life away from B6 is the young attacker Hepburn-Murphy. In his first appearance for his temporary club he performed a WWE style suplex and earned a red card along with a three-game ban. The young Englishman has only made one start and seems to be third or fourth choice for the League 1 side. This may in part due to the three-game ban affecting his match fitness. However, in his last appearance Hepburn-Murphy earned a yellow card in a substitute capacity so perhaps there is a discipline issue at hand.
James Bree – Luton Town
At newly promoted Luton Town, former first-teamer James Bree finds himself as the elder statesman and firmly planted in the Starting XI. Bree has started 8 games for Luton in the Championship and has seen the team into 18th place with a game clear of the relegation zone. Bree has gotten his creative muscles flexing again as well as he’s been able to notch an assist for Luton along with 7 key passes. Defensively the full back has been sound as well with 20 clearances and an 80% tackle success rate. Bree still has his eyes set in Claret and Blue however and suggests that these experiences and the run of games he is collecting in the Championship is exactly what is needed to set things right.
Andre Green – Preston North End
Andre Green has not been afforded the same run of games as Bree however and is finding it tough to break into the team at Preston. Over three league appearances for the season Green has a total of 89 minutes. Although the club is finding success and is third in the current Championship table, this is disappointing as it feels he could be learning more with his parent club if he’s just sitting on the bench. During a recent interview with Deepdale Digest the Preston manager even suggested that Green may be third choice just on the left wing. In the cup Green has managed a couple of starts and a goal, but this seems a distant memory as his last appearance was as an unused sub against Manchester City.
Scott Hogan – Stoke City
Scott Hogan is the oft forgotten man of Aston Villa but has the qualities of someone who could be a boon to the team if he could just find some form. Hogan was supposed to be able to do this at a high flying Stoke City who was expected to be near the playoff spots at least with Hogan helping lead the line. The reality of the situation is that Stoke is sitting bottom of the league and Hogan is a substitute more often than not. Hogan has scored three goals however, with two of them coming against Derby in one start and the other as a 90th minute winner against Swansea. Hopefully the goal scoring can continue and Hogan can find some form, if not his days at Villa are numbered