Loanee Daniel Sturridge won three points for Bolton Wanderers today, despite only playing for 23 minutes, by notching right at the death against Wolverhampton following a dire backpass by defender Ronald Zubar. Although he was put clean through, Sturridge still had to finish, and his first-time shot past Wayne Hennessy looked like the work of a far more mature striker than he. While Danny was playing the hero at the Reebok stadium, Gael Kakuta also made his debut for temporary club, coming in off the bench for Fulham in their 1-0 win over Newcastle.
I have been really impressed by him. I was aware of him as a young player, but you need to work with a player closely and understand an individual and what he can bring in terms of skill and style of play. But straight away as soon as he walked into the building you could tell he had quality, fantastic feet and great awareness. He could have scored one or two goals, but he created chances. He will have a decent impact against the right opposition.
Strong words from Hughes, who knows a thing or two about good players. We're hoping that Kakuta can get some significant playing time with the Cottagers over the remainder of the season. He's still one of Chelsea's top prospects, and his dribbling ability and left foot are astonishing, but he needs a little polish to his game that will only come through increased playing time. Impressing his new manager is a good way to get it.
Of course, Bolton manager Owen Coyle had some very kind things to say about Sturridge as well:
We were wary that we didn't want to ask too much too soon but we certainly knew that he could have a impact in the game and with a goal had a tremendous impact, showed his qualities. He's got pace, he's got a trick, and he's a natural finisher and it was a terrific finish and a great way to finish the game for us.
Coyle continued, talking about the impact loanee Jack Wilshere had on his side last year, and stated that he thinks that Sturridge could be just as important to Bolton this year as the now-Arsenal midfielder was in the previous campaign. Being willing to compare the impact of Sturridge to one of the finest young talents in English football shows just how much Owen Coyle thinks of his new player. Fortunately, Sturridge is due back at Chelsea at the end of the season, otherwise it sounds like they'd like to take him off our hands!
All in all, a good debut for our higher-profile loan players. Jacob Mellis and Patrick van Aanholt both had excellent games for Barnsley and Leicester yesterday as well. Jeffrey Bruma will apparently be joining van Aanholt very soon, but he's remaining with Chelsea until the emergency loan window for the Championship opens. Although Chelsea are getting some flak for spending on Fernando Torres and sending the youth movement out on loan, we all know that the only way the youngsters will progress to the point that they're capable of becoming regular first-teamers is through playing, and I think it's wonderful that they're getting significant time in a tough environment.