With nine players currently out on loan for Blues, their return to St. Andrews is gradually becoming closer, regardless of our league position, I’m going to be assessing the seven, judging if I think they have a future under Garry Monk. Could we do with any of these nine currently?
One player who temporarily headed away from St. Andrews last summer, under the leadership of Harry Redknapp, was Robert Tesche. The German defensive midfielder was eagerly signed on a free-transfer from Nottingham Forest, following a previous loan spell at Blues, which won the fans over. Making 12 appearances and scoring twice, the German was desperately wanted by Blues fans on a permanent deal – yet after his loan spell he wasn’t signed, heading back to Nottingham Forest.
However, at the start of the 16/17 season, he was signed on a free by Gary Rowett, making a total of 27 uninspiring appearances to this day, featuring once this season against our 5-1 hammering of Crawley, in which he got a goal before heading out on loan to VFL Bochum. This season our midfield has unarguably not lived up to expectations, yet I believe Tesche wouldn’t be a starter, only a rotation player for Monk. He’s made 15 appearances for the German club who currently sit 6th in the Bundesliga 2. The German will most likely leave Blues at the end of this season.
Second is Diego Fabbrini, one of the more prolific players out on loan at Spanish side Real Oviedo. Diego was initially signed on loan, like Tesche, from Watford during the 14/15 season. His silky style of play added much-needed flair to a gritty blues team. The Italian was resigned for £1.5 million pounds in January 2016 yet has only made 21 appearances to this date. He was previously loaned out to Serie B side Spezia.
Fabbrini suffered an ACL injury at the start of the season, limiting him to only 10 appearances so far this season – with one goal. Diego was labelled as weak, and a diver throughout his time at St. Andrews, and I agree. Players such as Jota currently occupy his favourited position, and with the Spaniard remaining in the form he’s currently in, Diego would get nowhere near Blues’ team.
Andrew Shinnie. That forgotten name that surely reminds many fans that the Scottish midfielder still remains on the books at Blues. Despite being loaned out three times during his ill-fated tenure at St. Andrews, Shinnie has played 67 times in Royal Blue, primarily featuring under Lee Clark. Currently on loan at League Two promotion hopefuls Luton Town, Shinnie is likely to join a lower-tier team in the Summer, ending his disappointing stay at Blues. With his contract expiring at the end of the season, it’s likely he will depart on a free.
Another forgotten name, until today after I realised it was his birthday, is Cheikh Keita. The French-born attacking full-back was signed under Gianfranco Zola’s disastrous reign, as he attempted to bring attacking flair to St. Andrews. He made 11 appearances for us, appearing to be the spark of hope in a shocking team, dazzling the opposition with his talent and skills.
Keita was reportedly wanted by Juventus whilst at parent-club Entella in Italy and appeared to be a coup signing for Blues. Despite this, Cheick has made zero appearances for Bologna, who have the opportunity to take him permanently, and considering his amount of game-time, I’d be surprised if they did. Keita has a future at St. Andrews, and the young 21-year-old, who’s best position seemed to be as a winger for blues, instead of a full-back. Many Blues fans eagerly await his most-likely return to Blues.
Viv Solomon Otabor is the fifth of the nine players currently out on loan, the young winger made 21 appearances for Blues, most noticeably scoring in our 5-2 hammering at Craven Cottage, grabbing the last of the 5 in injury time. With a combination of skills, pace, and talent. The youngster has lit-up League One side Blackpool, scoring 4 times in 42 appearances. Stats that may not initially shock you yet considering he’s 22. Is it too late to consider Viv as the next Nathan Redmond or Demarai Gray? I believe that if Blues were to go down, he would be somewhat useful for an inevitably weakened side in League One.
Nicolai Brock-Madsen, another forgotten name, was a surprise signing from Gary Rowett. Signed for a rumoured £500,000 in 2015, the tall Danish has only made 6 appearances for Blues, doing everything apart from impressing the St. Andrews faithful. Scoring a grand total of zero goals, his chances have been limited, thus going out on loan to PEC Zwolle last season – scoring seven goals for the Dutch side. Currently on loan at Polish side Cracovia, he’s made 5 appearances, once again scoring zero goals. Brock-Madsen will most-likely depart St. Andrews at the end of the season, concluding an extremely disappointing tenure at Blues.
Ronan Hale is another of the blues boys out on loan, the young Irish striker moved to Derry City in his home country. Ronan has lit up the league, scoring 5 goals in his first 7 appearances, including a hat trick. Hale progressed through the blues academy ranks, lighting them up too, scoring over 30 goals last season for the youth ranks. Hale is definitely a one to watch at St. Andrews, and is one for the future. If he continues his positive attitude to his career, could we see Hale in the first team soon?
Greg Stewart was signed by Gary Rowett in 2016, after shining for Scottish team Dundee. Swiped under the noses of a host of championship rivals, Greg failed to impress at Blues under Rowett, he even featured as a wing back for Gianfranco Zola. Stewart, who is currently on loan back in his home land at Aberdeen, he has scored 4 times in 33 appearances for the Dons. It’s incredibly unlikely that Stewart will make a name for himself under Monk, and, like many of the nine, is likely to leave at the end of the season.
Last, but not least, Is Dan Scarr. The English centre-back was signed under Gianfranco Zola, despite being watched by a host of championship clubs. The Blues supporter jumped at the chance to sign for Blues, having previously been a fan-favourite at non-league neighbours Stourbridge, due to a number of fantastic performances. Having spent the season on loan at Wycombe Wanderers, making 26 appearances for the Chairboy’s, it’s likely that Scarr will return to Blues at the end of his loan spell.
Only 23, Scarr still has plenty of time to demonstrate his worth to Garry Monk, who attempts to reassure a leaky Blues defence, as seen in our 2-0 loss against Wolves last week. Perhaps Scarr could be the unlikely man to take his place in defence in the future?
Which of these seven do you think has a chance of making it under Monk?
Words by Jack Blenkiron