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January loan watch: Five players to look out for

[Photo by Mark Fuller]

There have been many January loan moves in the 2023 window so far, with a lot of players under the age of 21 signed by clubs to bolster their squads. This article will highlight five players who have moved on loan from Premier League clubs in January and can make an impact in the second half of the season.

John-Kymani Gordon – First loan

Gordon signed a professional contract with Crystal Palace in July 2020 and recently signed a contract extension in December 2022. The young winger has been on form for Crystal Palace U21’s season, scoring six goals and assisting two in 10 appearances in the Premier League 2. This included a hat-trick against Tottenham Hotspur U21’s in a 3-0 win.

Gordon’s early season efforts were rewarded with the September player of the month award. This led to interest from lower league clubs as Gordon has yet to make an appearance for the Crystal Palace senior squad. Carlisle United were the team to secure Gordon’s services and he scored on his debut last weekend in a 2-0 win against Newport County in League Two.

His debut goal for Carlisle characterised his dribbling and finishing strengths as he was able to beat the Newport defender with ease before slotting the ball under the goalkeeper. With Carlisle only four points off the automatic places in League Two, Gordon looks set to play a key role in their promotion push.

Dan N’Lundulu – Looking for a spark

[Photo by Pete Norton]

N’Lundulu has already had two loan moves at Lincoln and Cheltenham, both in League One. The French- born striker is 23, and is contracted to Southampton, but he has yet to have a breakthrough season. His four goals and two assists in 23 appearances for Cheltenham last season represent his best return so far.

Bolton Wanderers have now signed the young striker in January to bolster their front line. Cheltenham and Lincoln struggled at the bottom of League One in both of his seasons there, so the volume of chances created for him was much lower than most League One strikers.

However, he is now joining a Bolton team sitting 5th in League One and looking for a return to the Championship. Bolton might be the move for N’Lundulu to reignite his career and he made a positive contribution in his debut against Portsmouth at the weekend where Bolton ran out 3-0 winners.

Bolton manager Ian Evatt told The Bolton News ‘’He (N’Lundulu) is reliable in possession. You can play it in to him and trust that he is going to bring other players into play.’’

Brooke Norton-Cuffy – Coventry calling

[Photo by NurPhoto]

Norton-Cuffy is another player who has already experienced a couple of loan moves. The Arsenal loanee spent last season at Lincoln and has made 20 appearances for Rotherham in the Championship this season, getting two assists.

Norton-Cuffy has now joined Coventry City and made his debut against Burnley on Saturday. The young Englishman is a wing-back and is a very talented dribbler, who suits a five at the back system.

Mark Robins, the Coventry manager, has a good record with young players at Championship level. Callum Doyle and Jonathan Panzo are also on loan from Manchester City and Nottingham Forest respectively and have both been mainstays in the team.

Norton-Cuffy is only 19 and there is a feeling that regular game time under the guidance of Robins will help the young wing-back excel.

Liam Delap – Switching to Deepdale

[Photo by Gareth Copley]

Delap is an intriguing case study as he has not quite yet found his feet at senior level. The 19-year-old striker joined the Manchester City academy in 2019 and shone at U21’s level. Delap scored 24 goals and assisted five in the 2020/2021 season for the Manchester City U21’s and the following season scored eight goals and assisted two. These performances helped Delap earn six appearances for the City first team, including a goal against Bournemouth in the EFL Cup in the 2020/2021 season.

At the start of the season, Delap earned a loan move to Stoke City who beat a lot of clubs to gain the striker’s signature. However, Stoke and Delap have struggled this season. Delap has scored only three goals in 22 appearances this season with Stoke lying 20th in the Championship table.

As a result of this, Delap has switched to Preston North End and will be hoping that he can fulfil his potential at Deepdale with some more goals in the second half of the season.

Josh Wilson-Esbrand – First loan

[Photo by Michael Regan]

Wilson-Esbrand is another full-back who has decided to move to Coventry. Wilson-Esbrand operates as a left-back and has impressed for the Manchester City first team this season, making two Champions League appearances against FC Copenhagen and Sevilla.

This is Wilson’s Esbrand’s first loan move at the age of 19 after playing a key role for Man City U23’s in their title winning Premier League 2 season last year. The young full-back made 14 appearances, scoring one goal, and assisting one in the 2021/22 campaign for the Manchester City U23’s. Since joining from the West Ham Academy in 2019, Wilson-Esbrand has been one of the brightest prospects at City.

Wilson-Esbrand has had some injury issues in the last two seasons, which has meant he has not played as regularly as he would like. This is something Pep Guardiola alluded to after a pre-season friendly against Bayern Munich in which Wilson-Esbrand started the game. Guardiola told the Manchester City website, ‘’He did a really good game. If we can control his injuries, we will have a full back for many years.’’

If he can stay fit, Wilson-Esbrand will be a player to watch out for in the Championship for Coventry.

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