Ins And Outs? – 27/11/14

careThe Loan Window slams shut tonight and as always when such a milestone approaches there is a frisson of excitement and anticipation on the part of every football fan, and Brentford supporters are no different.

Will something happen today before the five o’clock deadline, will we make a surprise move and bring in a new face or two?

Will perhaps a couple of our unused squad players kicking their heels on the sidelines be sent out for some first team match practice?

Who knows, but what is certain is that social media and the Brentford FC website alike will be red hot as supporters nervously check every possible news outlet throughout the day waiting for the puff of white smoke.

As is normal these days, rumours and hot gossip emanating from the club itself are totally nonexistent.

They keep their business extremely close to their chest nowadays, and I suspect that very few people, if anybody, outside the magic circle of Matthew Benham, Frank McParland, Mark Warburton, David Weir, perhaps Club Secretary Lisa Hall and finally the director who has to sign any paperwork will have any inkling of what is planned for today and what may or may not transpire.

Whilst all fans thrive on gossip and speculation and avidly seize upon any snippet of information that they can unearth, it has to be said that the club’s policy of omerta is simply good and sensible business practice, although it really does help spoil our fun.

So many transfer deals in the past have been compromised when somebody blabbed and spilled the beans.

I am reminded of those emotive Second World War posters carrying the message “Careless Talk Costs Lives”.

One has to keep a sense of proportion, and I am not suggesting for one moment that anybody involved with Brentford FC ever pays the ultimate price when the cat is let out of the bag, but I am equally certain that several transfer targets in the recent past were hijacked by other clubs who might well have discovered confidential information through leaks that were then published prematurely.

The only name that has been mentioned in the local media is that of Tommie Hoban a promising twenty year-old centre half at Watford who would be well known to Mark Warburton from his time spent at the club.

hobanHoban has risen through Watford’s youth ranks and made his debut in the final match of the 2010/11 campaign.

It was two seasons later, under Gianfranco Zola, that he established himself in Watford’s first team and despite missing a year of football due to an ankle injury, he has made thirty-eight appearances to date for the Hornets.

Interestingly enough he has commented recently upon how difficult it is for a promising homegrown youngster to force his way into the first team at the club.

“When Malky and Dychey were managing here a lot of young players were given the opportunity to go out and play.

When the Pozzos took over there was still that chance to get in the side and I was given my opportunity.

Now we are a side that wants to get promoted to the Premier League.

So it may now be harder for younger players to break into the side.

We have got a lot of good quality players but I think if you are good enough you will still be given a chance.”

The dramatic change in philosophy at Vicarage Road since the Pozzo takeover has seen the Hornets name starting lineups without a British or Irish player but Hoban has still managed to make eleven appearances so far this season.

It looks like Watford might well want to get him out on loan in order to play some first team football but I cannot for the life of me see how that can happen at Griffin Park at the moment.

Harlee Dean and Tony Craig are the pair rightly in possession of the first team shirts at present with James Tarkowski breathing down their necks and eagerly looking for an opportunity to win back the shirt he lost after his recent suspension.

Unless injury strikes there is surely no opportunity for a loanee to force his way into the first team reckoning at centre half in the immediate future.

That is not to say that the club might not be looking in the future to upgrade what is already one of the strongest positions in the squad but I would doubt if Hoban would be seen as an immediate replacement for one of the three players currently vying for recognition.

Watford would surely only send him out on loan if he was likely to play regularly in the first team and unless I am missing something then he would need to go elsewhere today.

That being said, if Brentford were to loan out Raphael Calvet today then there would be a space in and around the squad, as with Alfie Mawson remaining at Wycombe where he is really impressing, Daniel O’Shaugnessy would be the only other spare central defender at the club.

Maybe Brentford do have some plans for Hoban but I would be surprised if he is a viable and realistic target for today.

What else might happen?

Let’s first look at potential exits.

With the Christmas programme fast approaching and pressure likely to be put on the squad by a never ending and relentless onslaught of matches and travelling I would be surprised if any squad players are allowed to leave the club today as they will all probably be required as cover over the next month or so as the pressure bites.

Nico Yennaris has so far had a season to forget as he his progress has been set back by injury and he has never really been in a position to challenge for a first team place since his initial injury suffered at Dagenham in August.

He really needs games and at the moment is not being named on the substitutes’ bench.

That situation could certainly change as injuries take their toll and players need a break, but he, or even perhaps Marcus Tebar, who is now recovered from his injury and needs some match action, could conceivably be given the opportunity to get back to match fitness elsewhere.

Tommie Smith has not featured as much as he might have liked but is far too valuable to be loaned out.

The example of Toumani Diagouraga is fresh on the mind as he is a player who was revitalised by his loan spell at Portsmouth and came back a seemingly different player, one who is now one of the first names on the team sheet.

We did however have the cover available to allow him to leave for a short spell, but I do not see that as being the situation now.

Possibly Josh Clarke and Calvet might be given the chance to play elsewhere today and some of the other Development Squad players might also be found local non-league clubs to play for over the Christmas period, but I do not see any shocks or surprises exiting through the out door.

In that regard, suggestions on message boards that James Tarkowski might be sent out on loan are surely nonsensical as he is one of our best players, and is one injury or a few mistakes away from regaining his first team place.

As for other arrivals today – who knows?

We remain short of cover upfront where Andre Gray ploughs a lone furrow supported by the ever-willing Nick Proschwitz who spells him for the latter part of most matches.

We are wafer thin in the striking department as Betinho does not appear to have kicked on and has not even been named in recent Development Squad teams.

He is obviously nowhere near the first team at present, which is a real shame given the anticipation and expectation, unreasonable though they were, on his arrival and the need to give Andre a rest from time to time.

Montell Moore is highly promising and his time will certainly come, but it is far too early for him to be expected to make an impact at Championship level.

So do we stick or twist?

Danny Graham was rumoured to be arriving a few weeks ago but he would have come at a very high cost and would also have expected to play every week, and that is where the dilemma lies.

Gray has developed far quicker than could ever have been expected and given the season-ending injury to Scott Hogan, is now the undisputed first choice striker.

Whoever comes in would surely be expected to support and spell him rather than replace him and, as I have said before, clubs want their loanees to play rather than languish on the bench.

For that reason I would not be surprised if we do bring in a young striker from a higher level, another Chuba Akpom type of raw, inexperienced but talented player who could add some value without needing or expecting to play every match.

All will be revealed by tonight and, as per normal I fully expect to have got everything completely wrong, but, like everyone else I will be agog with anticipation!

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