Sheffield United loan watch: 'Quiet night' for Luke Freeman in Nottingham Forest's draw at Derby County as young 'keeper is 'star man' for Grimsby Town

Bottom side Sheffield United were nudged closer to relegation to the Championship last night after losing to Liverpool at Bramall Lane.

Monday, 1st March 2021, 9:10 am

The 2-0 reverse against Jurgen Klopp’s reigning champions was United’s 21st in 26 Premier League games this season and leaves them 15 points from safety with just 12 matches left play.

But how did Blades players plying their trade on loan at clubs across Europe fare at the weekend?

Let’s take a look at how they get on.

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Luke Freeman

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

Freeman, who has fully recovered from surgery to correct a hernia problem which had dogged him in the early stages of the campaign, was handed a second successive start in the Reds’ 1-1 draw with bitter East Midlands rivals Derby County at Pride Park on Friday evening.

He came off in the closing stages of the derby and Nottinghamshire Live’s Leigh Curtis, in giving Freeman a rating of five out of 10, wrote: “Started the game on the left and was then switched to the opposite flank and back again. Showed a couple of moments of quality, but all in all, a quiet night for the midfielder.”

Sheffield United's Luke Freeman in action for his loan club Nottingham Forest in their 1-1 draw at arch rivals Derby County on Friday. Photo: Mike Egerton/PA Wire.

Rhys Norrington-Davies

Wales under-21 international Norrington-Davies was recalled from his season-long loan at Luton Town in January to allow him link up with Michael O’Neill’s Championship outfit Stoke City until the end of the current campaign.

But the 21-year-old left-back, who signed a new long-term contract with the Blades in December, was substituted after just 45 minutes of the Potters’ 2-1 defeat at promotion-challenging Brentford on Saturday.

Peter Smith, who covers the club for StokeonTrent Live, gave Norrington-Davies a rating of six and wrote: “Offered a useful outlet down the left but lucky not to be shown a second yellow before being hooked at half-time.”

Tyler Smith

Twenty-two-year-old striker Smith joined League One outfit Swindon Town on a season-long loan in August and is the club’s top scorer with seven goals in all competitions.

But he has been sidelined with injury in recent weeks and, although he is back in training with the Robins, the young Blades forward was not in the matchday squad for John Sheridan side’s 2-1 win over Northampton Town at the County Ground 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 Belgian side Beerschot, the Blades’ sister club.

Coulibaly, who has scored five goals this season for the Antwerp-based club, was once again handed a place on the bench for Will Still’s side’s home game with Royal Excel Mouscron on Sunday – but was introduced to proceedings early in the second half to help his loan club claw back a two-goal deficit to draw 2-2.

George Broadbent

The 20-year-old midfielder joined Coulibaly at Beerschot last month on a deal until the end of the season.

Broadbent, who made his debut in Beerschot’s 3-0 defeat against Jupiler League leaders Club Brugge shortly after signing, did not feature in the 2-2 draw with Royal Excel Mouscron yesterday.

Regan Slater

The 21-year-old midfielder joined League One high-flyers Hull City on a season-long loan in November and has made 23 appearances so far in East Yorkshire – although much of his game time has come from the bench.

And Slater was once again named among the substitutes for the game at AFC Wimbledon on Saturday, before being brought on as an 81st minute substitute in the Tigers’ 3-0 win.

Hull Live’s Barry Cooper gave the Blades youngster a rating of six and wrote: “Saw late pull-back cleared at the near post when trying to fashion a chance inside the box.”

Jéan Leroy Belehouan

The 20-year-old French central defender joined National League Premier side FC Halifax Town on loan for the remainder of the season in January.

Belehouan, who is a second-year scholar with the Blades and plays for the under 23s, was not action at the weekend due to the Shaymen having no game.

Jake Eastwood

The 24-year-old goalkeeper joined League Two strugglers Grimsby Town until the end of the season on deadline day – his second loan spell of the campaign having returned from a six-month stint at Scottish Premiership outfit Kilmarnock in January.

Eastwood has played three games for the Mariners and was between the sticks in their 1-0 defeat to Harrogate Town on Saturday – but was one of the few Grimsby players to emerge from the game with their heads held high.

Writing for Grimsby Live, James Findlater wrote of the Blades keeper’s performance: “Kept Town in the game during the first half with what seemed to be some crucial saves at the time. Hasn’t put a foot wrong since arriving from Sheffield United 8/10 (STAR MAN).”

Michael Verrips

The Dutchman became the second goalkeeper to leave Bramall Lane on deadline day when he joined FC Emmen in his homeland until the end of the season.

Verrips, who like Eastwood is 24 years old, has been an ever-present since linking up with the Eredivisie’s bottom club and helped them to their second successive win on Saturday, a surprise 1-0 victory at Utrecht.

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