Steve Bruce has given a good deal of praise to the five loan players we’ve signed this season. To varying degrees, they have contributed to the promotion challenge and it seems like they could all have a future at the club beyond this campaign.
The manager was happy to say he would like to keep all of them if we are promoted. He was quoted by the Birmingham Mail as saying:
“The first thing we want to do is secure them. I would love to secure them all if we can. The loan signings have been instrumental in getting us this far. I can’t thank them enough for what they’ve done. They’ve been terrific for us, our loan signings.”
Their contributions have certainly been important, but who has left the best impression? I have ranked them in order of who I think has made the biggest impact:
1) Robert Snodgrass
Snoddy has been a major weapon for us this season. After a difficult six months at West Ham, he turned up at Villa Park with something to prove, and he has certainly delivered with eight goals and 13 assists.
The manager knew the Scottish international well from his time at Hull City, and it seems the boss is great at getting the most out of the winger.
2) Sam Johnstone
The 25-year-old has established himself as a top-class goalkeeper since arriving at the club. 20 clean sheets this campaign has been a great effort, and although there will be a number of clubs after him in the summer, we should be favourites to sign him if we are promoted. He has found a home with us, following a career full of loan spells away from Old Trafford.
3) Lewis Grabban
Recruiting the striker in January has proved an inspired decision. He has continued his form from his loan spell at Sunderland and has led the line very well. Eight goals in 17 appearances is not a bad return, and with four goals in his last six games, he will be heading into the playoff final in pretty good form.
4) Josh Onomah
A useful midfielder, the Tottenham academy player has been in and out of the starting line up this season. Having started out in an attacking midfield role, the 21-year old has had to be satisfied with places on the right, left and in a more withdrawn role since the return of Jack Grealish.
Spurs may be keen to see him back in London next campaign, but with very few first-team chances likely under Mauricio Pochettino, a move away is likelier.
5) Axel Tuanzebe
The Manchester United loanee has had his issues with injury, but it’s clear there is talent there. Since joining in January, we have only seen him play five times and most of those games have come at full-back.
At 20 years of age, the defender has a lot of improving to do, and it seems Bruce wants that development to be at Villa Park.