It can be a very frustrating time for a young player in a Premier League side, waiting for that break to get into the first team.
How many times will a player have to play in the (arguably), non-competitive U21 Premier League before he gets a chance to show what he can do on the bigger stage?
For some players, the prospect of regular first team football can rear it’s head in the form of a loan deal with a club in a lower league.
The player will have to make the decision whether to keep going in the Under 21 Premier League or join the ultra-competitive nature of a club playing in the Championship, League One or League Two .
There are, of course, pros and cons for each of these options.
By turning out for a team’s under 21’s side, a player is constantly on the radar, playing in front of the people who matter within the club week in, week out on pitches that resemble bowling greens.
Or, does a player go out on loan to a club languishing at the bottom of League One for example.
A club where he will be mixing it with journeymen footballers, on less than great pitches, and where a fan’s disparaging comments can be heard clear as a bell from the terraces if he makes a mistake?
Will the player stay in his comfort zone at his Premier League club waiting for the call up that may never come or will he challenge himself at a lower league club and gain that all-important match experience?
In this post we look at some current Premier League players who took the option of going out on loan to lower league clubs returning a stronger, more rounded player.
Leyton Orient, Millwall, Norwich & Leicester City
The Spurs and England goal machine was loaned out on four occasions between 2011 and 2013 in order to gain match experience.
Kane scored 5 goals in 18 appearances for League One side Leyton Orient, 7 goals in 22 appearances for Championship side Millwall, 3 appearances with no goals in the Premier League for Norwich City and 13 appearances with 2 goals for Championship side Leicester City.
After his spell ended at Leicester City, Kane returned to Tottenham where he very quickly established himself as one of the most potent goalscorers in the league.
Yeovil, Leyton Orient, MK Dons, Ipswich, Watford, Millwall, Leeds, Birmingham City & QPR
One of the most loaned out players in the history of the game, Townsend learned his trade in the lower leagues with a whole host of teams, making a total of 101 appearances and scoring 11 goals.
His spell at Queens Park Rangers was extremely successful with some crucial goals which led to a prolonged spell in Tottenham Hotspur’s first team upon his return and he also earned an England call up.
Before breaking into the Arsenal first team in 2000, Ashley Cole was loaned out to Crystal Palace who were playing in the old First Division at the time.
Cole made a total of 14 appearances for Crystal Palace before returning to Arsenal where an injury to regular left back Sylvinho meant that he had the opportunity to establish himself in the first team.
Cheltenham, Birmingham, Barnsley, Leeds & Derby
Although Butland had already gained some first team experience with Birmingham City, when Mark Hughes signed him for Stoke City, he decided to loan him out to Leeds United in order to gain more experience in front of fans with extremely high expectations.
Although his time at Leeds United wasn’t a huge success, Butland admitted that the experience he gained playing for a big club like Leeds in front of big crowds was a real learning curve.
Burnley & Sheffield United
An eighteen-year-old Gary Cahill was loaned to Championship side Burnley from Aston Villa in 2004 and was a huge success winning the club’s Player of the Year and Young Player of the Year awards.
Cahill ended up making 32 appearances in total for Burnley and scoring one goal, before returning to Villa where he was immediately installed into their first team.
Preston & Sunderland
After a loan spell at Preston from Manchester United was cut short due to injury, Danny Welbeck was signed by Sunderland manager Steve Bruce on a season-long loan in 2010.
Welbeck’s time at Sunderland was a success with six goals in 26 appearances and there were calls for an England call up before an injury resulted in an early return back to Manchester United.
After making a handful of appearances at parent club Chelsea, Daniel Sturridge was loaned out to fellow Premier League side Bolton Wanderers in January 2011 for the remainder of the season.
Sturridge was an instant success at the club scoring in each of his first four games and ended his spell with 8 goals in 12 appearances before returning to Chelsea.
After working his way up through the Arsenal academy to the fringes of the Arsenal first team, Arsene Wenger decided to loan Jack Wilshere out to Bolton Wanderers in January 2010 until the end of the season.
Wilshere inspired a lack-lustre Bolton side with some dazzling midfield displays and ended up making 14 appearances for the team with 1 goal.
His performances at Bolton were so good that the club wanted to sign him on a permanent basis but he returned to Arsenal and got his first senior England call up shortly after.
Watford, Peterborough, Bristol City, Sunderland
After loan spells in the Championship with Watford, Peterborough and Bristol City, Danny Rose was sent to Sunderland in 2012 on a season-long loan.
His time at the Stadium of Light proved to be a huge success and he made 27 appearances for the club, scoring one goal and also picking up Sunderland’s young player of the season award.
Leeds United, Sheffield Wednesday
Although Ross Barkley made some encouraging performances when he first broke through into the first team at Everton, it was decided that he should go on loan to gain some vital match experience.
In the 2012-13 season Barkley was first loaned out to Championship side Sheffield Wednesday where he scored 4 goals in 12 appearances before joining Leeds United on a month-long spell where he made another 4 appearances.
When Barkley returned to Everton at the start of the 2013-14 season he quickly cemented his place in the first team with a series of man-of-the-match displays and also made his senior England debut.
Queens Park Rangers, Aston Villa
After breaking into the Tottenham Hotspur team at the end of the 2009-10 season, Kyle Walker was sent out to Queens Park Rangers at the start of the following season to gain more high-level playing experience.
After returning to Spurs after a successful spell at Loftus Road where he made 20 appearances, Walker was sent out on loan again, this time Premier League side Aston Villa.
Walker’s time at Villa was also a success and he scored his first Premier League and senior goal during his time there.
He made a total of 20 appearances for Villa scoring two goals and, upon returning to his parent club, expressed an interest to move there on a permanent basis.
This notion was swiftly rebuked by Spurs manager Harry Redknapp who then offered him a new contract and installed him into the first team.
Leicester City, Birmingham City, Brighton, Derby County
Although Jesse Lingard had been included in Manchester United’s match day squad on occasion since 2011-12 he hadn’t made a competitive first team appearance for the side.
In order to gain vital match experience, Lingard was loaned out to Leicester City for a month in 2012 making 5 appearances.
He was then loaned out to Birmingham City at the end of 2013 where he made 13 appearances scoring six goals which were his first senior goals.
Lingard was only back at United for a month before moving to Brighton & Hove Albion on a 93-day-loan where he appeared 17 times and scoring 4 goals.
After making his first team debut in Louis van Gaal’s first game in charge of Manchester United at the start of the 2014-15 Lingard was unfortunately injured and lost his place in the team.
He was then loaned out to high-flying Derby County in February 2015 until the end of the season where he made 14 appearances and scoring two goals before returning to United and finally establishing a first team place.
Tranmere Rovers, Blackpool, Birmingham City
Having already featured for Manchester City in the 2007-08 and 2008-09 season, Hart was sent out on loan to Premier League side Birmingham City for the 2009-10 season when Shay Given was brought to the club.
Although Hart had a shaky start he was superb throughout his spell at Birmingham and went onto win the club’s player of the year award.
He was also nominated for the PFA Young Player of the Year award (which was won by James Milner) and he also earned a place in the PFA Team of the Year for that season.
Goal machine Defoe was shipped out to Second Division side Bournemouth for the season in 2000-01 having made just the one appearance for West Ham in the League Cup.
Defoe’s time at Bournemouth was a huge success and he ended up scoring 18 times in 29 appearances including 10 goals in 10 consecutive games.
Upon returning to West Ham, Defoe was put into the first team and was the club’s top scorer in his first full season despite being used primarily as a substitute.
Two months after making his Sunderland debut, Jordan Henderson was loaned out to Championship side Coventry City on a one month deal.
Henderson’s performances for the side were so impressive that the club extended the loan spell until the end of the season.
Although he scored his first senior goal during his time at Coventry, his time there was unfortunately cut short after a metatarsal injury and he returned to Sunderland.
For more information on what your favourite ex Premier League players are doing now, visit www.premierleagueheroes.com