A quiet seven days in loan land has seen headlines hard to find, as you may have realised by this tame latest effort. But, you can only work with what life throws at you, and this week we’ve seen Jack Cork begin to establish himself at Burnley, and Miroslav Stoch miss FC Twente’s European elimination through injury. Patrick van Aanholt, meanwhile, has completed his scheduled loan spell at Newcastle United, but where he plays next is uncertain.
Midweek schedules of late have been busier than usual thanks to heavy rescheduling after the new year snow and adverse weather, so things got underway Wednesday night, when Chelsea were losing in Milan and their reserves were following suit at West Ham. They weren’t alone in second-string duty, as for the first time this season, Franco Di Santo took part for Blackburn’s reserves in a 1-1 draw with Manchester United. After struggling to get into the first team of late due to good form from Nikola Kalinic, the Argentinian needed playing time and featured for the whole 90 minutes at Leigh, going close to scoring once in what was largely a poor fixture.
In more notable news, Ryan Bertrand’s Reading progressed into the FA Cup Quarter Finals for the first time in 83 years with a 3-2 replay victory over divisional rivals West Brom in extra time. They move on to play Carling Cup runners-up Aston Villa next weekend, and Ryan had a solid game throughout. He was on hand to clear Simon Cox’s effort off the line early in the game but was helpless to stop Robert Koren scoring the rebound. A knee injury hampered him late on but he got through the 120 minutes to join in the celebrations at the final whistle.
There were to be no Thursday night joys though, as Miroslav Stoch watched from the bench for the first time in his FC Twente career when Werder Bremen blitzed the Enschede side out of the Europa League courtesy of a Claudio Pizarro hat-trick. Stoch had a knee injury which caused swelling, and Steve McClaren decided it best not to risk the Slovakian international. He was kept company by the increasingly bench-bound Slobodan Rajkovic, who has been unable to work his way back into the team after a long-term injury.
Saturday may have seen Burnley lose at home to Portsmouth in a match which will have dented their hopes of staying in the top flight, but Jack Cork’s 25 minute outing showed once again that he can play in the Premier League. He replaced Andre Bikey with the scores level at 1-1 and provided an extra attacking impetus that the team had lacked up to that point. Unfortunately, a catastrophic error from Clarke Carlisle saw Portsmouth seal a vital three points, but Cork showed more positivity as he strives to earn a regular start.
After missing out through ineligibility last weekend against Chelsea, Michael Mancienne was an unused sub for Wolves’ trip to Bolton, losing his starting place to Adlene Guediora. Wolves were unlucky not to take something from their 1-0 defeat, hitting the woodwork twice, and it’s unfortunate that Michael lost what has been a regular place in the team. Scott Sinclair was his usual unused self for Wigan away to Birmingham, and on Sunday Di Santo was unable to work his way back into Blackburn’s team, sitting on the sidelines as they lost 2-1 at Liverpool.
At least The Championship provided good news. After Reading’s FA Cup escapades midweek, they demolished Sheffield Wednesday 5-0 at the Madejski Stadium, with Bertrand, like everyone in blue and white, having an excellent afternoon. It was also a good day for Patrick van Aanholt, who saw out his ‘last’ Newcastle performance in style with a 2-1 win at Watford. He is due to return to Chelsea this week but such has been his impression, Newcastle want to keep him on for longer. Chelsea’s injury problems at left-back may heavily impact on that decision, which will be made early this week.
Stoch was back in action on Sunday as Twente stayed one point behind leaders PSV courtesy of a late 2-1 win over NEC Nijmegen. The Slovakian’s slow start to 2010 was intensified by his nagging injury, and he needs to start showing that he is not predictable in his play, something which has been a concern. Rajkovic got a brief twenty minute spell late in the game as McClaren’s boys chased a win, which came with five minutes left.
Rounding off with a sigh of relief that the Croatian three-month winter break is over and the league campaign resumed for Matej Delac (who has been out even longer with illness), but it was in a losing fashion, as Inter fell to a 2-0 loss at Cibalia. Matej was voted his team’s best player and saved a penalty which he conceded in the first place. You can see highlights here.