Loan Stars: Part 3

Concluding my look at the players City have brought in on loan this season. No need for introduction, you’ve probably read the last two so you know what it’s all about.

Billy Knott

Billy is a player I’m a bit frustrated with. He clearly has a lot of ability, but at present I’m not sure where his best position is. He has a lot of neat flicks and passes, but I think he can be found wanting at key moments, and I think we have better options alongside Woodyard in midfield. Maybe he’s struggling with fitness, maybe he isn’t quite ‘on method’ as yet, whatever the issue is I don’t feel we’ve seen the best of him.

It was interesting that his arrival was delayed to allow him to play in our play-off matches if we fail to win the league. That signalled to me that he was as highly regarded as any of the loan players, and I thought perhaps he’d take the National League by storm. Instead he has had some impact, but he’s also been caught making little flicks and blind passes without really looking what he is doing. This isn’t a league for showboating, and it isn’t the time of the season to do it either. I confess I despair a little when I see he is starting ahead of Alan Power, never more so than last night.

I don’t want to be too down on Billy because I have no doubt whatsoever that he is a quality footballer with a good career ahead of him, but at the moment I can only assess what I have seen, and I haven’t seen enough to put a smile on my face, nor convince me he is in better form than the other players we have in our squad.

Joe Ward

Joe is another player I don’t think I’ve seen enough of, but for another reason entirely. I think Joe Ward might be one of the best loan players we have at the moment, but he has been restricted to fewer appearances than Josh Ginnelly. I saw Ward’s debut away at Gateshead in the FA Trophy and I thought he looked really threatening, and he certainly seems to have more of a final ball than his Aston Villa counterpart. He has appeared sporadically, one notable outing was the home league tie with York. At 1-0 down he came on just after half time, and along with Ginnelly I thought he turned the game.

He’s actually very similar to Josh, he’s quick and direct and loves to get at players. He was anonymous in the FA Trophy match against York though, so perhaps he has an element of inconsistency about him. Even so I’ve liked what I’ve seen with Joe and I’d hope he might be on the radar for next season as he’s young and could develop as a player under Danny and Nicky.

He also has an eye for goal, he’s netted three times since joining the side which is three times more than Josh Ginnelly. It is unfair to keep comparing them though, they’re both good players in their own right and personally I rate both of them equally. I’d just like to see a little bit more of Joe as something other than an impact sub, if he can attain a level of consistency.

Riccardo Calder

I’m not going to judge Calder on a single game, for an outfield player it isn’t easy to get a good view of what they’re about on their debut. My friend commented at the York FA Trophy match that Calder looked nervous on the ball, but it was his debut and it was a fairly big occasion. I don’t think I’ll have much to judge him by when the end of the season comes around because barring injury I expect Steady Seven Sam to feature regularly. I think Calder and Etheridge were signings made more out of necessity of cover than to add anything significant to the side.

Sean Long

I feel that this post has been fairly negative, and here I am again about to write about a player with less-than robust enthusiasm. It may be because I haven’t seen anything outstanding from Sean, it may be that I am such a fan of Bradley Wood that any other right-back just won’t do.

I get that Brad isn’t the most composed of full backs, but he is without a doubt one of the most tenacious and combative I’ve ever seen in a City shirt. That makes his boots incredibly hard to fill, and I just haven’t seen enough from Sean Long to convince me he can do it. He’s a decent player, if anything unspectacular and steady, but he has featured in a couple of our defeats recently and I think the different style he offers is partly to blame. He was unfortunate to play on the left at Barrow, it clearly upset the balance of the side with him needing to switch feet all the time, but he also started last night and wasn’t entirely at the races.

That said he did play well on his debut against Gateshead so I can see why he is here, but when you’re battling for the right sided role against Bradley Wood I’m afraid you’re always going to end up losing.

That concludes my look at the players we’ve had in on loan this season. I haven’t included Jonny Margetts due to the unusual nature of his second spell, and the fact he was our player at the beginning of the year.

I think it is prudent to point out that although some people are blaming the large number of loan players for our recent blip, I think that without them we would have had a poor run a few weeks before now. All of them offer something different, but of those currently still with us I think Ginnelly, Ward and Angol offer the best options to those players we already have. The others offer cover which is great, but I’d like to see a more settled starting eleven over the next few weeks. If Angol can link up well with Rhead I expect him to start, but the other two may be best used as impact players from the bench. Outside of that I sincerely hope we go back to the core of players that have seen us through to his critical stage of the season, as I believe our real match winners have been at the club since August.



  1. Definitely agree with you about Ward! We thought he looked great on his debut at Gateshead and definitely has an eye for goal. Would have liked to have seen more of him as I think he’s got a lot of potential and I feel we’ve not yet seen the best of him!

  2. Agree with very much of this, Gary. The cynic in me says that Knott is a skilful player but he is not rounded or consistent enough for what we need and perhaps that’s why the likes of Bradford and Gillingham let him go. Totally agree about Ward who, I’m hearing, may be injured at present. His decision making and final touch seem to be better than Ginelly’s.

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