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MAN UTD LOANEES: How are these Red Devils progressing out on loan?

Manchester United have seven players out on loan around England and Europe this season.

In a bid to shed some light on these loanees, Tribalfootball has run the magnifying glass over some of the septet who find themselves scattered around the UK and also across the English Channel.

Find out below which United players are starring and who is continuing to develop in their temporary environments.


Ashley Fletcher - Barnsley

The talented 20-year-old striker made the trip from Old Trafford to Oakwell last month and made an immediate impact in South Yorkshire.

Fletcher struck on his professional debut as the Tykes drew 1-1 with Fleetwood Town in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy Northern Area Final first leg on January 9, just two days after signing.

The Keighley-born forward endeared himself to the Barnsley supporters by coming off the bench in the 68th minute before producing a fine header five minutes later to cancel out the controversial own-goal from keeper Adam Davies.

Check out Fletcher's goal and celebration from 1:50 -

It was an unforgettable beginning for Fletcher who has since started twice in League One for Paul Heckingbottom and Tommy Wright, notching six appearances in all competitions, including a late came in the JPT final second leg which Barnsley saluted 4-2 on penalties after another 1-1 draw.

Fletcher initially signed a one-month loan but that was quickly extended until the end of the season while Lee Johnson was in charge at Oakwell before his move to Bristol City.

The then-Tykes boss told the club's official website: "I'm really pleased and very grateful to Manchester United for allowing us to keep Ashley to the end of the season.

“He has been a real asset to the group since joining and has improved with each game.

"He'll only get better and stronger as we go along, so we're all extremely excited to have him on board as we head towards the business end of the season."

Of Fletcher's six league appearances, Barnsley have won five which has them sitting 13th in England's third tier following an eight-game losing streak in October and November.

Expect Fletcher to be given more and more opportunities by Heckingbottom and Wright as he looks to continue learning from leading Tykes scorer Sam Winnall, who sits second on the League One scoring charts.

“Since I've come in, Sam has taken me under his wing and he's helped me a lot with advice on what it takes to play in this league," said Fletcher earlier this month.

“Playing in his position, I can only look to him as he's on fire at the moment. I've been watching him, I've been playing alongside him, I've been feeding him the ball and assisting him, and I'm trying to build a really good partnership. He's someone that I'm really looking to learn from.

“My main aim is definitely still to make it at United, I feel I'm very much part of the plans there. I've come to Barnsley to get the league experience and get games under my belt. And when I return, I think I'll be all the better for it."



Tyler Blackett - Celtic

Manchester-born Blackett is currently out on loan for a third spell since signing his first pro deal in 2012.

Short stints at Blackpool and Birmingham City preceded his season-long move to Celtic which came about in August last year.

Blackett debuted for the Glasgow giants as a left-back in the 2-1 loss to Aberdeen in September, but since then, the England U21 international has appeared only a further seven times for the Scottish Premiership leaders in what could be classified as a disappointing spell at Parkhead.

Blackett played 12 times for Louis van Gaal last season and was expected to kick on in Scotland's top flight but has only featured sporadically for Ronny Deila.

There was talk he could be recalled by United in both December and earlier this month as the Red Devils struggled in the absence of Luke Shaw and Marcos Rojo. Blackett was being earmarked for a run of games at left-back for the Premier League giants but in the end, van Gaal left him with Deila.

A centre-back by trade, the 6ft 2in Blackett has Efe Ambrose, Dedryck Boyata and now Erik Sviatchenko ahead of him at Celtic Park and has failed to even make the match day squad in recent times.

However, he did come off the bench three times in Celtic's ill-fated Europa League group stage campaign, experiencing game time against Ajax, Fenerbahce and Molde, in what certainly would have been an enormous learning curve.



James Wilson - Brighton & Hove Albion

Wilson made an immediate impact at the Amex Stadium after joining the Seagulls in late November.

The 20-year-old striker scored in his first two starts for Chris Hughton's side in what was a successful beginning after being given a baptism of fire in England's second tier.

Wilson debuted off the bench against Birmingham City just days after arriving on the south coast before netting the goal that got Albion back into the contest in the eventual 3-2 home triumph over Charlton Athletic on December 5.

Trailing by two goals, Brighton looked down and out until Wilson took it upon himself to spark a revival. He took possession of the ball in midfield, slipped by one Addicks defender, advanced into the area, shimmied past another would-be tackler, and then slotted home with his right foot while under extreme duress.

The goal showed a calmness and composure beyond his years and certainly endeared him to the Seagulls faithful.

Check out Wilson's debut Brighton goal at 0:43 -

Wilson repeated the dose the very next weekend when Brighton drew 2-2 with fellow promotion-chasers Derby County.

Wearing the number 21 shirt, Wilson got in between two defenders to poke a left-footed volley from Jamie Murphy's inch-perfect cross, giving Rams keeper Lee Grant no chance at all. It was a quality finish from a player who has been educated to take each and every chance.

See it below from 0:27 -

Since then, Wilson has added just one more goal to his tally, which was the winner in a 2-1 home result over Huddersfield Town, to have pocketed a trio of goals from 12 Championship outings thus far.

You can see his match-winning header from 1:28 -

The youngster has been competing with the likes of Bobby Zamora, Tomer Hemed and Murphy for a starting spot, but the involvement which such a group will only enhance his maturity and give him more know-how as Brighton boss Hughton himself mentioned late last month after his Huddersfield winner.

“The intention is to give him valuable experience and be regularly involved in games. It will toughen him up physically," he said.

“He knows what the Championship is all about now and that is valuable experience for him.

“Ultimately, he'll be sent back after half a season's experience at this level.

“He scored a really good goal, is having the benefit of hard-fought and aggressive games and at the minute it is working out very well."



Victor Valdes - Standard Liege

It is almost sad to see the path Valdes' career has taken in recent years.

The former Barcelona number one was savagely successful during his time with the club he joined as a 13-year-old in 1995.

While at Camp Nou, Valdes was an integral part of six La Liga titles, won the Champions League on three occasions, and was part of a Barca side that won 12 other pieces of silverware.

Fast forward to February 2016, and the 34-year-old finds himself (no offence Belgium) in the Jupiler Pro League.

Saddling up for Standard Liege is a far cry from donning the gloves against the Real Madrid's, Manchester United's, Chelsea's, Juventus' and Bayern Munich's of this world.

Nevertheless, Valdes will not be looking back at his past as I have done, instead he will be working his socks off to resurrect a brilliant career which was sidetracked by a serious knee injury in March 2014.

He was given a lifeline by United later that year and after a rosy, yet expectedly inactive beginning to life at Old Trafford, the 10-time Spain international was treated horrifically by van Gaal.

Valdes was ordered to train by himself and for a man of his standing in the game, was all too happy to turn out for the U21s side, despite the fact he has over 500 appearances for one of the world's best teams under his belt.

But I digress.

The vastly experienced gloveman made his way to the Stade Maurice Dufrasne to play under a man less than 16 months his senior in Yannick Ferrera.

Valdes made his Liege debut on January 30 and was back to his clean sheet-keeping ways as the Reds beat Leuven 2-0 away.

Two appearances from Valdes have since passed us by - a 1-1 cup draw with Genk and a 2-1 league defeat to Sint-Truiden - but the fact he is back in the thick of it, despite not being completely at his best, is a pleasing aspect.

Peculiarly, his move to Liege has caused some consternation among his new teammates, particularly Togolese midfielder Mathieu Dossevi who suggests highly-rated youngster Guillaume Hubert is a better option.

“Of course, Valdes is a great player," said Dossevi last month.

“But I seriously wonder if we actually need him – and I don't think so. We have a great goalkeeper in Guillaume Hubert.

“He is a fantastic keeper. Guillaume has been showing brilliant things in goal for our club and the players are all right behind him."

Notwithstanding, Valdes was completely professional when speaking to Standard's official website following his arrival: "I want to give everything physically, tactically and technically.

"I'm here to help my team and my teammates with a common goal - first of all to get back into the top six to play in the playoffs and to win the cup.

"I know that Standard are an historic club in Belgium. So it's important Standard are as high as possible in the standings and get back into the top three in the Belgian league.

"They deserve to because of their supporters, the history and for everyone for whom the club means something, Standard should be back at the top."

Whether this move works out for the 2010 World Cup winner remains to be seen it sure beats spending time by yourself at Carrington with no support from your manager.



Kieran O'Hara - Morecambe

During his time with the Shrimps, O'Hara has stepped out on just one occasion for Jim Bentley's side.

The 19-year-old goalkeeper arrived at the Globe Arena at the beginning of the 2015/16 season but has spent much of his time in Lancashire on the bench as back-up to undisputed Morecambe number one Barry Roche.

O'Hara made his Football League debut in the January 23 League Two clash at league leaders Northampton Town which the Shrimps lost 3-1.

During his formative years in United's youth academy, the promising gloveman was given chances to train alongside the first team and says he learnt a mountain of information from Red Devils number one David De Gea on all things goalkeeping.

“Sometimes we get to train with David and it's good learn from someone who's done what he's done," he told The Visitor last month.

“The form he's in now is outstanding and training with someone like that, you can learn what they do and watch them, try and replicate it and put it into your own game.

“I don't think you can go far wrong."

O'Hara enjoyed the difference of playing senior football to that of his academy experiences which often has youngsters trying to impress with brilliant individual efforts.

“It's difficult, it's tough, playing against men," he added.

“You're playing for points, it's a competitive but you need to be put into that environment because I think it can only make me better.

“Everyone's trying to win rather than concentrating on individual performances."

Earlier in the season, O'Hara switched to National League North side Stockport County where he made one appearance during a one-month stint before returning to Morecambe.

Now he is looking to finish the season on a high before returning to United to battle with other promising types like Sam Johnstone (on loan at Preston North end) and Joel Castro Pereira (on loan at Rochdale) for a possible upgrade to the senior squad.

“We're good friends but you draw a line when it comes to playing because you are competitive, you do want to be number one," he said further.

“It's important that you don't become too good friends with them because it can get in the way.

“You don't want anyone else taking your place."

Andrew Slevison
About the author

Andrew Slevison

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