Sheffield United loan watch: Ismaila Coulibaly's Beerschot side hit by Covid-19 outbreak as Blades defender scores in FA Trophy win

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Sheffield United came agonisingly close to securing their first win of the season when they drew 1-1 at Brighton & Hove Albion on Sunday.

Chris Wilder’s side, who had John Lundstram sent off in the first half, were just three minutes away from bagging all three points when former Manchester United and England striker Danny Welbeck scored a late equaliser to cancel out debutant Jayden Bogle’s 63rd minute opener.

The result leaves the Blades without a win from their opening 14 games and rooted at the bottom of the Premier League, but Wilder and his coaching team would have returned from the south coast heartened by a battling performance with just 10 men at the Amex Stadium.

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But what about the players who are not currently part of the first team picture at Bramall Lane?

Sam Graham, on loan at Notts County from Sheffield United, scored for the Magpies in their 3-0 win at Morpeth Town in the third round of the FA Trophy on Saturday. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)Sam Graham, on loan at Notts County from Sheffield United, scored for the Magpies in their 3-0 win at Morpeth Town in the third round of the FA Trophy on Saturday. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
Sam Graham, on loan at Notts County from Sheffield United, scored for the Magpies in their 3-0 win at Morpeth Town in the third round of the FA Trophy on Saturday. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

Let’s take a look to see how they fared at the weekend.

Luke Freeman

The 28-year-old midfielder is currently on a season-long loan with Championship side Nottingham Forest.

Freeman, who joined United for a then club record £5m from Queens Park Rangers in the summer of 2019, is currently recovering from surgery to correct a hernia problem and is not expected to be available until early in the New Year.

“Luke’s had a hernia operation, which was very successful,” said Forest manager Chris Hughton, speaking last week. “For those that know about hernia and groin repairs, there are different types you can have. I think it’s the less serious of the types you can have. It will still keep him out for a period of weeks, but it won’t be long-term.”

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Freeman has made 10 appearances for the Reds and has scored once.

Rhys Norrington-Davies

Wales under-21 international Norrington-Davies is on loan at Championship side Luton Town for the 2020/21 campaign.

The 21-year-old has produced some excellent displays for the Hatters which has led to him earning three full Wales caps, as well as a new long-term contract with the Blades which he penned earlier this month.

Norrington-Davies will remain with the Bedfordshire club for the remainder of his loan spell and played in the 0-0 draw with AFC Bournemouth at Kenilworth Road on Saturday.

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Jake Eastwood

The 24-year-old goalkeeper joined Scottish Premiership outfit Kilmarnock in July on a six-month loan but suffered a thigh injury on his debut against Hibernian in early August which kept him out of action for three months. He wasn’t in the matchday squad for the 2-0 defeat to Aberdeen yesterday.

David Parkhouse

The Northern Ireland under-21 international forward signed for National League side Hartlepool United on loan until January in September.

Parkhouse was substituted in the 65th minute of Pools’ FA Trophy third round tie at FC Halifax Town on Saturday – a game which finished 3-3 before the home side went on to book their place in the next round by winning a penalty shoot-out 4-2.

In giving him a rating of five, Hartlepool Mail’s Dominic Spurr wrote of Parkhouse’s performance: “Put a few long throws into the box which threatened to cause problems but didn’t offer an awful lot with the ball at his feet.”

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Tyler Smith

Twenty-two-year-old striker Smith joined League One outfit Swindon Town on a season-long loan in August.

The forward, who has not made a senior appearance for the Blades, has netted seven goals during his loan spell at the County Ground but failed to add to his tally in the 2-2 home draw with Charlton Athletic on Saturday.

He was substituted on the hour mark and in giving him a score of six out of 10, Swindon Advertiser’s Jonathan Leighfield wrote: “Tyler Smith warned Charlton to be ready as Town would be at it from the first whistle. The team might have been, but Smith was barely involved and didn’t have any chances before being subbed for his senior striker partner on the hour. Subbed.”

Marcus Dewhurst

Young goalkeeper Dewhurst re-joined League Two Carlisle United on a temporary basis until January 2021 at the end of August.

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The 19-year-old had previously joined the Cumbrians on-loan on deadline day last January, but failed to make a competitive appearance before Covid-19 brought about the suspension of league football in England.

He was not in the matchday squad for United’s 1-0 defeat at Forest Green on Saturday.

Ismaila Coulibaly

Mali under-20 midfielder Coulibaly joined United from Norwegian outfit Sarpsborg 08 earlier this season and was immediately sent out on loan for the next three seasons to high-flying Belgian side Beerschot, the Blades’ sister club.

Coulibaly, who has been named in United’s list of U21 players for the 2020/21 campaign, is more than enjoying life in the Belgian Pro League and has played a key role in Beerschot’s fine start to the season.

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However, Beerschot’s scheduled game with Cercle Brugge yesterday was postponed after a Covid-19 outbreak within the squad.

Sam Graham

The 20-year-old central defender is on loan at National League outfit Notts County – his second temporary stint with the Magpies – until January and had been sidelined recently with a back injury suffered in training but is now back in action and was on the scoresheet in Neil Ardley’s side’s 3-0 win at Morpeth Town in the FA Trophy third round on Saturday.

In giving him a score of eight of 10, Nottinghamshire Live’s Leigh Curtis said of Graham’s display: “Strong and powerful display from the on-loan Sheffield United defender whose physical attributes were made for this blood and thunder cup tie. Seemed to be in his element. Scored too.”

Regan Slater

United allowed the 21-year-old midfielder to join League One outfit Hull City last month on a season-long loan but he failed to impress in the Tigers’ 2-0 defeat to Portsmouth in the top-of-the-table clash at the KCOM Stadium on Friday night.

"Gave the ball away a fair bit in the first period and came off shortly into the second half. 4/10,” wrote Barry Cooper, from Hull Live.