Sheffield United loan watch: Returning Rhys Norrington-Davies 'didn't shy away from the challenge' in Stoke City's win over Luton Town

Sheffield United’s season of woe continued with a 1-0 defeat to fellow strugglers Fulham at Craven Cottage on Saturday.

Monday, 22nd February 2021, 12:00 pm

The defeat was rock bottom Blades’ 20th of a troubled campaign and leaves them 14 points from safety at the foot of the Premier League table following Newcastle’s 3-1 reverse at Manchester United on Sunday evening.

But how did United 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 a second half substitute in the Reds’ 1-0 win over Blackburn Rovers at the City Ground on Saturday having missed the midweek defeat at Swansea City after his wife gave birth the day before the game.

Nottinghamshire Live’s Leigh Curtis, in giving Freeman a rating of six after being introduced as a 68th minute replacement for Alex Mighten, wrote: “The midfielder did not see much of the ball as the visitors enjoyed a lot of possession in the second half.”

Sheffield United's Rhys Norrington-Davies returned from suspension to help Stoke City beat his old club Luton Town 3-0 at the Bet365 Stadium on Saturday. (Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images)

Rhys Norrington-Davies

Wales under-21 international Norrington-Davies was recalled from his season-long loan at Luton Town last month to allow him to join the Hatters’ Championship rivals Stoke City until the end of the current campaign.

And the 21-year-old left-back, who put pen to paper on a new long-term contract with the Blades in December, returned to action following a three-match ban to star in the Potters’ 3-0 win over Luton at the Bet365 Stadium on Saturday.

Peter Smith, who covers the club for StokeonTrent Live, gave Norrington-Davies a six on his first game back since January 30 and wrote: “Timely return and didn’t shy away from any challenge against old side.”

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.

However, he has only scored twice since former Sheffield Wednesday star John Sheridan took over as boss at the County Ground in November and wasn’t in the matchday squad for the game against Crewe Alexandra at the County Ground on Saturday, which the lowly Robins won 2-1.

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 his loan club, came on as a late substitute in the Antwerp-based outfit’s 2-1 win at KRC Genk on Sunday.

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, was not in the matchday squad for the 2-1 win at KRC Genk yesterday – a victory which moved Will Still’s side up to sixth in the table.

Regan Slater

United allowed the 21-year-old midfielder to join League One high-flyers Hull City on a season-long loan in November and he has made 20 appearances so far in East Yorkshire.

But Slater has struggled for game time of late and came on as a 55th minute substitute in the Tigers’ dramatic 3-3 draw against Doncaster Rovers at the Keepmoat Stadium on Saturday.

Hull Live’s Barry Cooper gave the Blades youngster a lowly four rating and wrote: “Just looks lost I’m afraid. Runs around a fair bit but didn’t get near John Bostock.”

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 last month.

Belehouan, who is a second-year scholar with the Blades and plays for the under 23s, missed the thrilling 3-2 win at leaders Torquay United on Saturday through illness.

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 last month from a six-month stint at Scottish Premiership outfit Kilmarnock.

However, he had no game on Saturday because the Mariners’ fixture at Exeter City on Saturday was called off due to a waterlogged St James’ Park pitch.

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, made his debut for the Eredivisie’s basement side’s 1-0 defeat to AZ Alkmaar earlier this month and was in the starting XI again as his loan club finally chalked up their first league victory of the season on Saturday – a 3-2 win home win over PEC Zwolle.

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