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The 2023/24 loan round-up

Written by George Rossiter on 11th June 2024

With relegations, European qualifications and trophy wins, our loanees have seen the lot this season…

George Wickens

Our promising keeper spent the final few months of the season in the Highlands at Ross County. Wickens started very promisingly, saving a penalty at Celtic Park before setting a Scottish Premier League record for number of saves in a single game at Ibrox. When County’s number one, the aptly named Ross Laidlaw, returned from injury in mid-April, Wickens’s game time was cut short. Nevertheless, 13 first team appearances in Scotland’s top division is valuable experience to take forward.

Luca Ashby-Hammond

After Luca’s brother Taye impressed at Stevenage in 2022/23, earning a permanent move to the club last summer, Luca would have wanted this to be his breakthrough year in senior men’s football. The goalkeeper started the year on loan at Crawley, making just 11 appearances in all competitions. Then in January, he was recalled and sent to Notts County, where he made a further 11 outings. Those 22 games in total yielded just four clean sheets, but saw Ashby-Hammond concede 39 times. Safe to say he hasn’t quite made the impression he’d have wanted this year.

Terence Kongolo

Not to go full Cam Ramsey, but there were clear positives and negatives to Kongolo’s season. His 15 appearances for Rapid Vienna was the joint most games he’s played in a season in half a decade. However, that figure could have been even higher had he not been sent off a bonkers three times in one season. Rapid Vienna also made the Austrian Cup final, but were unfortunately beaten by Sturm Graz, a game in which Kongolo played the last 20 minutes of. Their fourth-placed finish also guaranteed Europa League football, and with Kongolo now out of contract, there may be a new home for him there in the Austrian capital.

Ibane Bowat

Another defender who has had a good season abroad in Austria was Ibane Bowat at Hartberg. The Scot was a vital cog in his side finishing fifth in the Austrian Bundesliga, securing the club Conference League football next season. The Scottish centre-back played 34 times across all competitions, highlighting his importance to the side. Bowat also played multiple times for Scotland’s U21 side during the season, another indicator of the impressive form he showed out on loan.

Luciano D’Auria Henry

After joining Cheltenham Town, D’Auria Henry was one of six loanees that the club sent back to their parent clubs in the January window. The wing back started the season brightly, featuring in three of Cheltenham’s first few games of the League One season, but never made a league matchday squad again after starting against Peterborough in mid-September.  

Kevin Mbabu

It’s fair to say Mbabu’s reputation had been dented from a difficult first season with Fulham in the Premier League. Going to Augsburg for a season was a risk, a team with a small budget that frequently battles just to survive the drop in the Bundesliga in recent years. However, the risk paid off. Mbabu was a key player in a strong Augsburg season, which had it not been for a run of five defeats to end the season, could have seen Augsburg qualifying for Europe, finishing just three points off Heidenheim, who did qualify. More than 2,000 Bundesliga minutes, including a couple of assists and clean sheets, it’s been a productive year for the Swiss right-back.

Tyrese Francois

When the Australian midfielder joined Danish Superliga side Vejle BK in the January window, his new side were in serious danger at the bottom of the league, soon to be going into the league’s second phase, where Velje would compete in the ‘relegation round’. However, Francois seriously impressed in the Danish side’s midfield, coinciding with their upturn in form in the final stages of the season. Francois notched up two assists at the back-end of the season, helping his side to a run of four consecutive victories, securing the club’s top flight status. Like Kongolo, Francois is out of contract and may have found a new home abroad.

Chris Donnell

Donnell was another that went out on loan in the January transfer window, heading to Scottish Championship side Airdrieonians. Game time was limited for the Australian midfielder, but his side were successful nonetheless. Donnell made a number of cameos as Airdrie finished in the league’s play-off positions, eventually losing out to Partick Thistle. The highlight of Donnell’s time in Scotland was undoubtedly in the Scottish Challenge Cup, coming off the bench in both the semi final victory over Raith and the final against Welsh side TNS, where Airdrie won 2-1 to take the trophy.

Kieron Bowie

Following a successful first season at Northampton Town, helping them to promotion from League Two, Bowie returned for a second spell this year in League One. The versatile Scottish forward continued to impress at Northampton, with 15 goal contributions in 44 league appearances in the 2023/24 season. Bowie, like Bowat, featured frequently for the Scottish U21s too, scoring three times in their European Championship qualifying campaign.

Martial Godo

Godo started the season really strongly for Wigan, causing havoc for League One defences and earning praise for a promising televised performance in the FA Cup against Manchester United. However, after an ankle injury in December, the forward struggled to recapture his early season form, scoring just once in 2024. Despite that, eight goal contributions and 34 League One appearances in a first senior loan is a positive learning curve for Godo, who was at Margate just a couple of seasons ago.

Jay Stansfield

Definitely mixed feelings for Jay Stansfield after the 2023/24 season. On a club level, Stanno was part of a Birmingham side that went from early play-off contention under John Eustace, to eventual relegation thanks to the mismanagement of the owners and Wayne Rooney. However, the fact that Stansfield cleaned up at the club’s end of season awards, speaks to the season he had individually. Stansfield remains part of the England youth setup and has been told he will be part of Silva’s first-team squad next season. Some 13 goal contributions for a relegated side is a brilliant effort for the young forward.

Terry Ablade

Ablade’s season long loan spell at Carlisle United, newly promoted to League One, certainly did not go to plan. Ablade featured in 16 of Carlisle’s opening 17 competitive fixtures across League One, the FA Cup and the EFL Trophy. However, those games resulted in a big fat zero goals for the Finnish forward. Ablade then suffered a serious injury in November time, which saw his season cut short before it had even reached the Christmas period.

Oliver Sanderson

Despite playing for two sides that eventually experienced relegation, Sanderson’s season was one of promise and continuous improvement. After scoring nine times for Oxford City in the National League, Sanderson was recalled and sent out to Sutton United, who were in a relegation battle in League Two. Sanderson continued to impress at a higher level, and while Sutton were eventually relegated into non-league, the young English striker added another four goals to his season’s tally, including two in a huge away win at Salford late in the season.

Carlos Vinicius

Despite featuring mainly in five-minute cameos most weeks for Galatasaray after signing for the Turkish giants in the January window, Vini’s loan spell was one of much success. Galatasaray and Vinicius’s first trophy came in early April, when his side were awarded a 3-0 win in the Super Cup following bizarre scenes in which Fenerbache left the field of play in protest against the Turkish football authorities. Gala and Vini would go onto win the league title two, beating great rivals Fenerbache to the title by just three points, despite eclipsing the 100 point mark themselves. Vini’s final minute winner in a 4-3 win away to Kasimpasa was a key moment in that run to the league title.

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