IF ANY of the five players released on loan by Leeds United were disappointed to find themselves out on a limb, the purpose of moving elsewhere cannot have been lost on them.
Some of those sent out during the summer window know their time at Elland Road is probably up, while others are young enough to understand that first-team football will do them good but lower league clubs have profited from temporary transfers out of Elland Road.
I haven’t been happy with my performances. I’ve been looking for my confidence in games and in training. It was a while ago that I played competitive games but I still feel I’ve got so much more to give.Leeds United’s Marcus Antonsson - on loan at Blackburn
Marcus Antonsson, Leeds’ Swedish striker, is one player whose prospects at United are less than hopeful but the finishing which earned him a move to Elland Road last year has shown itself at Blackburn Rovers. Three goals in eight league appearances have helped keep Blackburn in League One’s play-off positions during the first two months of this season.
United sent Antonsson on a season-long loan to Ewood Park in early August, before the chains of deals which saw Chris Wood join Burnley for £15m and Pierre-Michel Lasogga, Pawel Cibicki and Jay-Roy Grot arrive in his stead. There were opportunities for Antonsson in pre-season but a wasteful appearance in a friendly at North Ferriby United in July all but drew a line through his name.
Antonsson, who has been field as both a striker and a winger by Tony Mowbray, opened his account for Blackburn in a 3-0 win over Rochdale, his fourth appearance for Rovers. “I really needed that,” he said afterwards. “It was a big relief to slide on my knees in front of the fans.
“I haven’t been happy with my performances. I’ve been looking for my confidence in games and in training. It was a while ago that I played competitive games but I still feel I’ve got so much more to give.”
Over on the west coast of Lancashire, Fleetwood Town have not been demanding much more from Lewie Coyle. The talented right-back has been ever present under former Leeds head coach Uwe Rosler, collecting a streak of man-of-the-match awards decided by supporters’ votes.
Coyle, 21, was on the cusp of breaking through at Leeds when Rosler was briefly in charge at Elland Road and United see him as a future first-team right-back. He signed a new three-year contract before leaving on loan and will spend the whole of this campaign with Fleetwood, one of last season’s beaten semi-finalists.
Notable blips came in home defeats to Southend United and Charlton Athletic, matches in which Fleetwood conceded seven goals, but Rosler’s side are three points short of sixth place in League One with a game in hand over every club bar Blackburn.
Elsewhere, Mallik Wilks has contributed to Accrington Stanley’s early push for promotion from League Two, making what he described as a “dream start” to his half-season loan.
The 18-year-old scored on his debut in a 2-2 draw against Notts County and came off the bench to claim the decisive goal in a 2-1 win at Chesterfield, earning him the tag of “super sub”.
“I’m happy to help the side in whatever role the gaffer wants me to but it would be nice to show what I can do from the start,” Wilks said. The forward duly started and scored again as Accrington beat Middlesbrough’s Under-23s in the Checkatrade Trophy last month. Accrington are third in League Two, far above Port Vale where Leeds’ left-back Tyler Denton has experienced harder times. Denton has been a regular for Vale, playing eight times, but Michael Brown was sacked as manager two weeks ago and Vale are joint bottom of the division with five points.
Denton’s first taste of a full year at senior level looks set to result in a relegation fight and a scrap to keep Vale in the EFL. Luke Murphy, on loan at Burton Albion, was well warned of a tough season ahead after taking up another chance to work with Nigel Clough and a club who are trying to exceed the sum of their individual parts in the Championship for a second time.
Burton have given Murphy a run of games, something Leeds have been unwilling to offer him for some time, but while the midfielder avoided Albion’s savage 5-0 defeat at Elland Road last month, their two games before the international break ended in 4-0 defeats to Wolverhampton Wanderers and Aston Villa.