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Hayley Wheeler - In-form loanees boost Premier League survival hopes

Published: 02 Mar 2011 - 10:58:10

The January transfer window is renowned for hectic last ditch loan signings by managers desperate for Premier League survival and to haul themselves from the abyss. Many loan signings turn out to be no-hopers, has-beens or lower league candidates. However the occasional gem can be found amongst all of the aforementioned rubble.

It is rare that a player with the ability to make the difference between relegation and survival becomes available on loan. Players, that are full of potential but have underachieved at their parent club. Players, who are unfortunately, demoted to bench warming duties as understudies to the international stars whose names are printed on the back of our shirts.

This season, we have seen such gems uncovered and they have become the big fish in a small(er) pond. Carlos Vela would appear to be an inspired signing for West Brom and the new man about town, Roy Hodgson, should thank his lucky stars that Roberto Di Matteo had the foresight to sign him. With the array of talent at Arsenal he struggled to forge a place in the first team and Wenger has sensibly allowed him to go out and gain some valuable pitch time.

If the success of Jack Wilshere's loan to Bolton is anything to go by, it could prove another shrewd deal by the Frenchman.And his impact has been immediate. The Mexican's 87th minute equaliser against Stoke on Monday was his second late goal in two games and he could even have gone on to grab the winner if it weren't for a magnificent save from Asmir Begovic. With such a narrow margin between the struggling sides in the bottom three, Vela's influence could prove vital if Hodgson is to avoid another embarrassing early exit from his post.

Mick McCarthy is already reaping the rewards of his loan signing, Jamie O'Hara from Spurs. He has netted twice since his arrival in January and is providing the quality in midfield which allows more freedom for the wingers to roam forward.

He never failed to give his all when playing for Spurs but due to the sheer number of midfielders on the books, and the emergence of Gareth Bale and the arrival of Rafael Van der Vaart, it proved virtually impossible to stake a claim for a first team place. It is no surprise O'Hara has hinted that he wants to make his move away from the Lane permanent.

The most prolific loan signing of the season has got to be Daniel Sturridge. He was offered a handful of chances at Chelsea but his days were numbered after the purchase of Fernando Torres. However his fruitful arrival at the Reebok will have pleased Owen Coyle no end, scoring four goals in as many games.

Straight away he has settled into his role and has been allowed the freedom to play without pressure - something not bestowed upon him at Chelsea. I love the irony of the situation. Fifty million has bought Chelsea zero goals so far, and Bolton got four goals for free from Chelsea's castoff. And whether Chelsea agree or not, I think he has great potential.

As an English player it's great to finally see him getting his chance, and with England's limited options up front of late, he is a welcome addition to the fold.Whether it is the gift of freedom or the frequency at which they are able to play, their fresh flurry of confidence has turned these players into the loan deals of the season so far.DSG


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FOOTBALL.CO.UK BLOGGER:Hayley Wheeler
Despite being born and bred in the country, Hayley is a football-mad Tottenham Hotspur fan. Away from the beautiful game she has been eventing her own horses for over 20 years, having previously been a human and equine sports therapist. She has now turned her hand to sport journalism and hopes to one day be gracing your television screen broadcasting the game she loves. Follow Hayley on Twitter @Hayleywsport

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