BROWNE ON THE BALL: Loan market can be a gamble worth taking

Dion-Curtis Henry.
Dion-Curtis Henry.

Dion-Curtis Henry’s spell with Boston United highlighted the good - and bad - sides of the loan market, writes Duncan Browne

The note Dion-Curtis Henry tweeted after leaving Boston United made pleasant reading.

Paul Farman.

Paul Farman.

After learning that he would be staying with parent club Peterborough United and not be returning to the Jakemans Stadium, he put out a public statement thanking those involved with the Lincolnshire side.

He pointed out how he ‘thoroughly enjoyed’ his time, and thanked the team, staff and fans.

He added that - perhaps most important of all - he also feels the experience will allow him to continue his career a better goalkeeper.

For Henry, this was an example of how the loan system can be a fantastic way for young, talented players to gain invaluable first-team experience and put them in a better place to further their careers.

Liam Marrs.

Liam Marrs.

For Boston, it was an example of both the good and bad sides of the system.

Henry was undoubtedly a welcome addition to the squad, a strong, powerful and dependable keeper who grew in stature with every performance (it seems unfair that his last performance for the club had to be that horrible 9-2 thumping at Fylde, for which he could be hardly blamed).

Like Joel Dixon and Max Stryjek before him, Henry was a talented young keeper who cut his teeth while seriously helping the club out.

A two-way street.

But on the flip side, when you don’t own a player you don’t have the final say of when he can be available (let’s not forget that Paul Farman, currently flying high with Lincoln City in the National League was once surplus to requirement and about to join Boston before the loan merry-go-round came to a halt with a new manager at Birmingham City).

Henry was expected to stay for the rest of the year and, suddenly, he’s no-longer part of the squad.

Of course, Peterborough are within their rights to look after their assets, just as they were when they decided not to allow him to feature in the FA Cup for the Pilgrims.

But - with no disrespect to fellow stopper Michael Emery, who has been a reliable stand-in when called upon - it suddenly throws a spanner in the works when the players you are building your team around are no longer available.

United have enough injury problems of their own without also learning a player they believed would be at the club is no-longer up for selection.

The loan system is a gamble.

When it works it can be fantastic - you may even end up with a Lee Thompson, Liam Marrs or Liam Agnew enjoying their time enough to make a move permanent.

But when it doesn’t go your way you can end up with a promotion charge thrown into question as a vital player such as Jordan Richards finds himself relocated to Ireland.

That can be a real kick in the teeth.

At present the Pilgrims have six players in on loan - Ben Clappison, Joe Robinson, Josh Robinson, Taylor Miles, Joe Pugh and James Goode - and Lamin Colley out on loan at Scarborough.

With the current injury situation the club is suffering, they do need bodies in, even if the FA trophy defeat at Witton Albion with a faltering back four including three loanees does raise its own set of questions.

Using loan players does make sense.

But there is no doubt it remains a gamble.