'Hasn't worked out' - verdicts delivered on Leeds United loanees and possible permanent moves

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The 2022/23 season has thus far produced mixed fortunes for Leeds United's loan cohort, some of whom could be entering their final six months as Whites-owned players.

It used to be, during Marcelo Bielsa's reign, that a loan move away from Elland Road all-but spelled the end of a player's time with the club, and although that's not a hard and fast rule, it looks likely in a number of cases this season.

Of all the Whites plying their trade elsewhere this season, Charlie Cresswell is the one with the most likely future with his parent club, and Lewis Bate recently told the YEP of his hopes to return in the summer to fight for a place at Leeds.

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But for others, this temporary exit will almost certainly become a permanent one, particularly when football at a lower level is not proving a fruitful hunting ground.

Leeds United keep a close eye on their players from afar and loans manager Andrew Taylor takes a hands-on approach to their progress and welfare, but here's the local insight from reporters on the ground, as to how six of Leeds' loanees are faring with the turn of the year approaching.

Charlie Cresswell - Millwall

Alex Jones, Millwall reporter for Southwark News: "Charlie Cresswell’s loan spell has been defined by extreme highs and lows. For every powerful headed goal there’s been a defensive mistake or a general lapse in concentration which has left Millwall exposed at the back. The 20-year-old is clearly incredibly talented and has a lot of key characteristics which every top-level defender needs. He’s a real warrior, as shown by his incredible performance in the Lions’ 0-0 draw with Hull City where he soldiered on despite taking a boot to the face in the first half. He’s a physical presence and, of course, a big player in the final third when it comes to set pieces. His movement is surprisingly unpredictable for a young centre-back which means that, if he can get his head on the ball in the opposition’s box, it’ll usually end up in the back of the net.

Defensively, there’s a few more concerns. He can sometimes come across as a pretty naive player, but that’s simply because he’s inexperienced. This is his first full season of senior football and he’s competing for a place in the team with three of the best centre-backs in the Championship in Shaun Hutchinson, Jake Cooper and Murray Wallace. His decision making at key moments needs to improve because top Championship forwards will exploit any mistakes, such as the ones he made away against Sheffield United and Blackburn Rovers earlier this season. That’ll improve with game time and experience, which he’ll hopefully get at The Den this season despite rumours of being recalled by Leeds United after falling out of the team in October. Gary Rowett is keen to keep him for this season at least, but he’s clearly rated highly in West Yorkshire and I’m certain that Jesse Marsch has big plans for him in the long run."

MIXED BAG - Charlie Cresswell has had highs and lows on loan at Millwall, where fellow Leeds United man Jamie Shackleton is also trying to break into the side. Pic: GettyMIXED BAG - Charlie Cresswell has had highs and lows on loan at Millwall, where fellow Leeds United man Jamie Shackleton is also trying to break into the side. Pic: Getty
MIXED BAG - Charlie Cresswell has had highs and lows on loan at Millwall, where fellow Leeds United man Jamie Shackleton is also trying to break into the side. Pic: Getty

Jamie Shackleton - Millwall

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Alex Jones, Millwall reporter for Southwark News: "Jamie Shackleton’s situation is slightly different because Millwall have an option to buy him at the end of the season, although it remains to be seen whether they end up doing that. I felt like the 23-year-old really needed to move to a club which could offer him regular first-team football but it hasn’t quite worked for him in South Bermondsey. That’s because Gary Rowett ended up moving from a back five to a 4-2-3-1 formation, so he faces increased competition in midfield, where Billy Mitchell and George Saville are the clear first-choice duo, and a tough battle against Danny McNamara at right-back. His versatility is a huge plus, maybe his biggest strength in the eyes of Rowett, but I worry that he doesn’t really know his best position, which could hinder his development.

He’s a really good technical player. Fantastic on the ball, can spot a good pass and clearly knows the game inside out. You can tell he has Premier League experience, but I worry about his physicality a little bit. You need to be strong and commanding to play in a Championship midfield, but his size means that he can get overrun a little bit. I’m sure Millwall would like to keep him because there’s undoubtedly potential for him to develop into a solid top-flight player, but it will really hinge on the transfer fee and whether they believe they can find better value in the transfer window next summer."

Lewis Bate – Oxford United

Liam Rice from the Oxford Mail: "Since returning from injury at the end of October, Bate has started to show signs of what he’s about. He’s still behind Cameron Brannagan and Marcus McGuane in the pecking order but when given starts or coming off the bench, he catches the eye with his neat and incisive passing, plus dangerous delivery from set pieces. There’s no doubt head coach Karl Robinson is a huge fan but whether the U’s would pursue a permanent transfer remains to be seen, given the reported million pound plus figure Leeds paid Chelsea to sign him."

Dan James – Fulham

Jack Collins of Ranks FC and Fulhamish podcasts: "Dan James’ Fulham career so far has been a bit of a mixed bag - there are definite signs of life, but much of the inconsistency that plagued his game at Elland Road appears to have come in his luggage when he made his loan switch., In his defence, starts have been limited for the Welshman, with Neeskens Kebano and Bobby De Cordova-Reid starting the season well, and countryman Harry Wilson returning to the fold of late meaning that opportunities to get going from the beginning of games have been lacking.

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His versatility, whilst often a blessing for managers, has at times been a curse too - with James’ ability to play across the forward line meaning that he’s a bit of a dream substitute to have in the pocket. He’s played minutes on the right, on the left, and through the middle also - without being able to really nail down a consistent spot anywhere. That said, James’ last appearance, against his former employers Manchester United, was firmly his brightest in the White of FFC, where he also notched his first goal.

But, goal aside, this was the James we were hoping to see. Dynamic and alert, there were a number of occasions where really for the first time, we saw him square up a full back and take them on, driving Fulham into dangerous opposition territory time and time again towards the end of the game. If that’s anything to go on, rather than the slightly limp World Cup campaign we’ve just seen, then perhaps it’s the blueprint from which Fulham can get the best out of James going forward.

We’ve probably not seen enough to be talking about making this deal permanent from a fan perspective, especially with the numbers that were being thrown around earlier in the summer window, but there are rumours of Fulham looking to bring in another domestic loan, which would suggest that one of our two already taken up - James and Shane Duffy of Brighton - might be either terminated or made into a permanent deal.

With neither having been a particular mainstay of how Fulham have gone about their business, it would be a gamble, but the Khan family are not averse to taking a risk, especially on a homegrown player once of Swansea City - see also, Alfie Mawson. This might have all seemed a little wishy washy, but that’s how it’s been for DJ - flashes of brilliance, moments of madness, and just lacking the consistency to really immerse himself in the heart of this team."

Tyler Roberts – Queens Park Rangers

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Ian McCullough Senior football writer for West London Sport: "Personally, he is a player I really like and that may just be because whenever I’ve covered matches involving Leeds he seems to play well. However, it hasn’t really worked out for him so far at QPR because he hasn’t been able to keep fit.

The torn thigh muscle he suffered when playing for Leeds last season meant his pre-season was largely affected and he’s been playing catch up ever since.

But when he has played he has done well. His introduction off the bench was integral to turning a 2-0 half-time deficit into a 2-2 draw at Sunderland.

The only time Roberts, Ilias Chair and Chris Willock have played together was in a win at Bristol City, which was one of Rangers’ best displays of the season and saw Roberts’ score.

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There is an agreement in place for QPR to make the move permanent at the end of the season, but I know they are now looking to reassess that in January after he injured himself yet again last month. But following Mick Beale’s departure to Glasgow Rangers [and Neil Critchley's arrival as his replacement] it means everything is up in the air again."

Ian Poveda – Blackpool

Matt Scrafton of the Blackpool Gazette: "It’s fair to say Poveda’s move hasn’t worked out so far. He started brightly enough - on his first start against Huddersfield back in August he looked a bag of tricks and full of direct running. But he’s only made two further starts since then and nine appearances overall, which sums up his impact so far. I don’t think you’ll find many questioning his ability on the ball, he’s got a lovely first touch and technically he’s right up there with Charlie Patino, who is on loan from Arsenal. There’s been a few question marks over his discipline and durability, however, and there were times where he was left on the bench even when the team was chasing a late goal. He’s also been left out of the squad entirely on one or two occasions, which is quite telling. It’s not a question of Blackpool wanting to turn the loan move permanent, it’s more of a case of whether or not his loan will be cut short in January. It doesn’t suit any of the three parties involved for Poveda to be sat twiddling his thumbs, so how he fares now Blackpool have returned from the break will dictate whether or not he'll return to Leeds once the transfer window opens."