End of term report: English Abroad XI 2015/16

Report card

Back in August and ahead of the 2015/16, I selected my dream team of the best English footballers abroad.

Now the season is over for the majority of the players in the side, it’s time to see who were the high achievers and who deserves a stint in detention..

Goalkeeper: Matt Jones (Tondela, Philadelphia Union, Bethlehem Steel) C-
Appearances: 11 (Tondela: 10, Union: 0, Steel: 1) Cleans sheets: 1

The season started off perfectly for Matt Jones at new loan side Tondela. His was the side’s first choice goalkeeper as they prepared for a challenging season looking for survival in Portugal’s top division. However, much like the previous season with parent club Belenenses, Jones was replaced in the starting line-up midway through the season.

It was an unfortunate moment of déjà vu for Jones but he didn’t waste any time trying to make a return to first team football. After six-and-a-half seasons in Portugal, the 29-year-old joined MLS side Philadelphia Union in February on loan, returning to the States seven years after leaving college.

Unfortunately for Jones, he has been unable to force his way into the Union’s starting team, having to make do with warming the bench so far this season.

The shot-stopper has made one appearance since the move to America, playing for the Union’s affiliate side Bethlehem Steel in the country’s third-tier, USL.

Left back: Ashley Cole (AS Roma, LA Galaxy) D
Appearances: 10 (AS Roma: 0, Galaxy: 10) Goals: 0

Ashley Cole’s year-and-a-half stint with Italian side AS Roma was underwhelming, to say the least. The former England stalwart managed just eleven league appearances during his time in Italy and he did not feature once for the capital city side this season.

This led to Cole terminating his contract early and joining Steven Gerrard at LA Galaxy. His time with the Galaxy so far as been solid without being too impressive. He has missed only a couple of MLS games so far this season as LA’s good start to the season has seen them lose just one game in eleven. However, the 35-year-old left back did pick up his first red card for more than four years earlier in the season.

The 2015/16 period has been disappointing for Cole but the signs are promising that he can end his career on a high with the Galaxy. He was understandably rusty on his arrival in the States but a good run of games now could see him and Gerrard in line for silverware come the end of the year.

Centre back: Taylor Moore (Lens, Lens II) C
Appearances: 23 (Lens: 6, Lens II: 17) Goals: 0

At the age of 19, Taylor Moore has a huge future ahead of him and this season was another big learning curve for the talented defender. The centre-half started the season with Lens’ first team, featuring in the club’s first game of the season in Ligue 2.

However, despite making three appearances for the first team in August, Moore returned to Lens’ second side in the fourth-tier for more regular action. The rest of 2015 saw Moore switch between the two sides.

At the turn of the year, the England U19 international settled in a regular starting spot with Lens II as they looked to battle relegation to the country’s fifth tier. With two games remaining for Lens II this season, they face an uphill battle to survive but with Moore at the back, they have every chance of retaining their status in the fourth tier. A relegation would not be disastrous for Moore though, as he looks set for a future with the first team.

Centre back: Charlie I’Anson (Valencia B) C
Appearances: 20 Goals: 1

Back in August, I predicted Charlie I’Anson to finally get a prolonged shot in Elche’s first team following their relegation to the Segunda Division but instead, the 22-year-old defender joined Valencia’s B team in the third division.

The move meant Charlie would remain in the same division as he ended the 2014/15 season, following his successful loan spell with Real Oviedo in the third tier that year.

The former Grimsby defender made 20 appearances this season, making eleven starts and scoring one goal in a 2-0 win over Badalona in April. His side achieved a respectable 8th place finish

Right back: Todd Kane (NEC, on loan from Chelsea) B
Appearances: 34 Goals: 1

Todd Kane’s fourth season out on loan from Chelsea at his fifth different loan side could well be his most successful to date. The 22-year-old was a regular for NEC throughout the campaign, making 34 appearances, 32 of which were starts.

NEC were in for a difficult season following promotion to the Eredivisie but Kane’s side made light work of survival in their first season back in the top tier, finishing tenth and only four points away from the Europa League play-off spots.

However, the season was not to have a happy ending for Kane who suffered a cruel blow to what had been a very impressive season from the young defender. At the end of April in a match against PEC Zwolle, Kane suffered an ACL injury, curtailing his loan spell with NEC and potentially keeping him out for four to six months.

Despite the injury, Kane’s year with NEC cannot go unnoticed and with Chelsea suffering defensively this season, his return to fitness later in the year could coincide with a place in the first team next season

Left midfield: Andrew Driver (De Graafschap) C-
Appearances: 29 Goals: 4 

From a personal point of view, Andrew Driver’s first season with De Graafschap in the Netherlands could be classed as a success. The former Hearts and Houston Dynamo winger made 29 appearances and scored four goals and it was reported that he was “loving life” in Holland.

However, that is were the positives end. After just one season back in the Eredivisie, De Graafschap were relegated back to the second tier following defeat to Go Ahead Eagles in the relegation/promotion play-offs. Driver played in both legs but was unable to prevent defeat. It was a case of sweet revenge for the Eagles who avenged their defeat to De Graafschap in the play-offs least season.

For Driver though, his time in Holland could be over with his one-year deal the ‘Super Farmers’ expiring at the end of next month.

Centre midfield: John Bostock (OH Leuven) C
Appearances: 27 Goals: 7

It was a similar case for John Bostock in Belgium with OH Leuven. In his first season in the Belgian top flight, the former Spurs midfielder continued his impressive form from the previous year by firing seven goals in just 25 league appearances.

But the 24-year-old’s goals from midfield were to be not enough and Leuven were relegated back to the second tier at the first time of asking. It wasn’t without trying though, Bostock’s men finished just a single point off survival.

Nonetheless, Bostock’s ‘stock’ continues to rise in Belgium and after two seasons with Leuven he now has 20 goals in 52 starts, a record not to be sniffed at from a midfielder.

Since my season preview though, Bostock’s status as an English player abroad has come under threat. The former England youth international has committed his international allegiance to Trinidad & Tobago and although he is yet to earn a cap, he did earn a call-up to the T&T national side earlier in the year.

Centre midfield: Chuks Aneke (Zulte Waregem) D
Appearances: 12  Goals: 2

After a promising start to his career overseas with Zulte Waregem last year, Chuks Aneke’s career has stalled significantly. The former Arsenal midfielder made 38 appearances for Waregem last season and was looking build on that this season, starting the first three games of the 2015/16 season.

But a promising start to the season did not reach its full potential. Aneke managed to add just nine more appearance throughout the rest of the season and he did not play another game after being substituted at half time in the 3-2 defeat against Standard Liege in November.

Following his injury problems this season, Aneke now looks like he is going to be released. It is an unfortunate turn of events for the former Crewe Alexandra loanee, after his first season in Belgium created such an impression.

Right midfield: Izzy Brown (Vitesse, on loan from Chelsea) C+
Appearances: 24 Goals: 1

Izzy Brown was one of three Englishmen who were loaned out to Vitesse from Chelsea at the start of the 2015/16 season and although he made the fewest appearances out of the three, the impact that the spell in Holland will have on his development has the potential to be priceless.

Previous to this season, Brown’s first team football experiences amounted to 15 minutes of Premier League action, the culmination of two substitute appearances for West Brom and Chelsea.

Now the 19-year-old has an entire Eredivisie season under his belt as well as experience in the Europa League. Brown made 24 appearances in total, 14 of which were starts, and bagged his first ever senior goal in the 2-1 win over Roda JC back in March.

Attacking midfield: Ravel Morrison (Lazio) D
Appearances: 8 Goals: 0

It was always going to be difficult for Ravel Morrison to make the breakthrough at Lazio this season, a side challenging for European football, but he will be disappointed his first year in Italy resulted in just one start and only 58 minutes of Serie A action.

With Serie A rules permitting eleven substitutes to be named per match, the 23-year-old gained plenty of experience being involved in a match-day squad.

However, out of the 24 times Morrison made the bench for Lazio in Serie A, only four times did he get the call from Stefano Pioli or Simone Inzaghi to come on.

The former West Ham midfielder’s only start of the season came in November last year, where he lasted 75 minutes in the 2-0 win away to Rosenborg in the Europa League.

His first-team chances were even further limited from January onwards after Lazio’s president Claudio Lotito stated Morrison rejected the chance of a loan deal and more first team football with Serie B side Salernitana, a side also owned by Lotito.

At the age of 23, Morrison needs to be playing regular first team football and he may need to make the move away from the Stadio Olimpico in order to achieve that.

Striker: Dominic Solanke (Vitesse, on loan from Chelsea) B+
Appearances: 26 Goals: 7

The youngest of Chelsea loanees at Vitesse, Dominic Solanke was still 17 when he made his debut for Vitesse at the start of the season. Just a week later, he scored his first ever senior goal in a 4-1 win over Cambuur.

In total, Solanke fired seven goals in 26 matches in what was his first ever season of senior football. A very impressive return from the youngster who has been tipped for the top ever since he fired 12 goals in nine games for Chelsea U19s in their 2014/15 UEFA Youth League campaign.

Solanke’s goals saw him finish as Vitesse’s third top scorer as his adopted side finished ninth in the league.

The 18-year-old now returns to Chelsea with a very bright future ahead of him.

Substitutes
Goalkeeper: Luke Steele (Panathinaikos) B
Appearances: 35 Clean sheets: 16

Another fine season for the shot-stopper as Panathinaikos finished second in the Greek Super League and are now on course to achieve Champions League qualification in the UEFA play-offs.

Left back: James Lawrence (Trenčín) B
Appearances: 20 Goals: 2

Suffered from injuries so played less than he would have wanted but still managed to score his first senior goals as Trenčín celebrated another league and cup double.

Left back: Jordan Mustoe (Westerlo) C-
Appearances: 19 Goals: 0

Was in and out of the team as Westerlo earned Belgian Pro League survival by a single point.

Centre back: Myles Anderson (L’Aquila, Lupa Castelli Romani) E
Appearances: 15 (L’Aquila: 11, Lupa: 4) Goals: 0

Struggled for game time in Italy’s third tier and even a loan move could not secure regular football. Both sides Anderson featured for finished either in a relegation spot or a relegation play-off spot.

Centre midfield: Lewis Baker (Vitesse, on loan from Chelsea) B+
Appearances: 34 Goals: 5

A very productive season out on loan. A regular in the Vitesse side throughout the season and contributed goals too. Currently performing for England U21s in the Toulon Tournament.

Striker: Gary Noel (First Vienna) B
Appearances: 27 Goals: 12

Another productive season in Austria’s third tier for Gary Noel. Finished as the league’s fourth top scorer as his side only missed out on promotion by way of goal difference.

Striker: Osayamen Osawe (Hallescher) C+
Appearances: 39 Goals: 10

Played every league game in Germany’s third tier for Hallescher as he managed his best return for a season.

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English Abroad XI 2015/16

With many leagues across Europe beginning this month, it would seem appropriate to look at the players set to stand out this season.

To do this, I have selected an English Abroad dream team. The best 18 players who begin their campaigns this month.

XI 15
Goalkeeper: Matt Jones, 28 (Tondela) After three seasons with Belenenses in Portugal, the former West Brom youth player has joined fellow Primeira Liga side Tondela on loan. Tondela earned promotion from the country’s second tier last year so Matt Jones is set to be busy this year. However, he has two seasons of experience in the country’s premier division now which will be vital as he looks to earn safety with his new side.

Left back: Ashley Cole, 34 (AS Roma) England legend Ashley Cole found minutes difficult to come by last year, making just eleven league starts in his first season abroad. More chances on the pitch are possible this year though, as José Holebas, the man Cole was competing for left back with last year, has left the club to join Watford. The 34-year-old will be hoping to impose himself in Italy this season.

Centre back: Taylor Moore, 18 (RC Lens) Young defender Moore only made his first team debut in May, starting Lens’ last four games of the season. Unfortunately, the England youth international could not prevent his side suffering relegation to the second tier. As the saying goes though, every cloud does have a silver lining for Moore, who will now have more regular playing opportunities with his side in Ligue 2. He already has one clean sheet under his belt, after playing 90 minutes in Lens’ first game of the season last weekend.

Centre back: Charlie I’Anson, 22 (Elche) This season is set to be an interesting one for the former Grimsby defender. Last year was an unsettled one for I’Anson. After a promising start, making eight starts for second tier club Alcorcón on loan from Elche, he lost his place in the side and dropped down a division for more regular playing opportunities. The move came at the perfect time however, with I’Anson making twelve appearances as he helped Real Oviedo to the Segunda B title. The victory was a much needed confidence boost for the defender, known as Charlie in Spain, and he will now make a push to stake his claim back in Elche’s first team after their relegation from La Liga last season.

Right back: Todd Kane, 21 (NEC, on loan from Chelsea) After four domestic loan deals, Kane has followed the well-trodden route of many a Chelsea youth player and made the move to Holland – except the right back has not joined Vitesse. Instead, the former Nottingham Forest loanee has joined newly promoted side NEC Nijmegen for the upcoming season. The former England U19 international has spent the majority of the last three seasons on loan at Championship clubs and with first team chances limited at Stamford Bridge, the move to Holland will provide vital first team experience outside of the comfort zone of England and even Vitesse.

Left midfield: Andrew Driver, 27 (De Graafschap) After just one game back in Britain for Aberdeen, Andrew Driver is on the move abroad again, this time agreeing a deal with another of Eredivisie’s newly-promoted sides De Graafschap. Driver is no stranger to playing overseas, having spent two seasons as a regular at Houston Dynamo, although the move to Holland will provide a new culture. Driver will be looking for his first goal since May 2013 this season, having failed to score all last year.

Centre midfield: John Bostock, 23 (OH Leuven) After two seasons in Belgium’s second division, John Bostock is back playing top tier football again after the most successful season in his career helped OH Leuven to promotion. Big things are expected of the former Tottenham Hotspur wonder-kid this year, after scoring 11 goals in 26 games from midfield last season and it will be intriguing to see if he can make the step-up. Leuven have had a tricky start to the new season, losing their first two games – despite Bostock starting both.

Centre midfield: Chuks Aneke, 22 (Zulte Waregem) Partnering his Belgian Pro League colleague in the centre of the park, former Arsenal player Chuks Aneke had a mixed start to life abroad. 38 appearances in all competitions was an impressive return for a player who had previously never played top flight football. However from the point of view of his new club, the season was very disappointing as as Zulte Waregem dropped from 4th place to 12th in one season. The club will be looking for improvement this year and Aneke could be catalyst as he looks to add to the four goals he managed last season.

Right midfield: Izzy Brown, 18 (Vitesse, on loan from Chelsea) Another of the English contingent in Holland, Izzy Brown will be looking for regular first team football at Vitesse, having made just one league appearance for Chelsea since joining from West Brom in 2013. The England U19 international started both games as his new side were knocked out of the Europa League by Southampton recently and will hope to stay in the line-up going into the league campaign. Blessed with immense potential, José Mourinho said that he should be blamed if Brown were not to become a senior England international under his management.

Attacking midfield: Ravel Morrison, 22 (Lazio) The pinnacle of all mercurial talents, Ravel Morrison has a lot to prove this season. The move to Italy could be perfect for Ravel; away from the distractions of home where he can finally concentrate on rediscovering the form he displayed at West Ham that had everyone talking. However, cementing a place in the Lazio starting eleven will not be easy, despite firing a brace in a pre-season game for the Italian giants. 2015/16 is a massive season for one of the stars of England’s future.

Striker: Dominic Solanke, 17 (Vitesse, on loan from Chelsea) With over a month to go before his 18th birthday, Dominic Solanke is one of the most exciting prospects to emerge from England in the past decade. At the tender age of 17, the young forward has a chance to replicate his prolific goalscoring form in a top division after he joined Vitesse earlier this week. The striker fired an astonishing 12 goals in just 9 games last season for Chelsea U19s in the UEFA Youth League and he also has a total of 24 goals at various youth levels for England. Solanke is definitely one to watch this season.

Substitutes
Goalkeeper: Luke Steele, 30 (Panathinaikos)
Experienced ‘keeper, a regular in Greece.
Left back: James Lawrence, 22 (Trenčín) 
Can also play in midfield, won league and cup double last year.
Left back: Jordan Mustoe, 24 (Westerlo) Former Wigan player will be looking to build on a solid first season in Belgium.
Centre back: Myles Anderson, 24 (L’Aquila)
Has dropped down from Serie A for more playing opportunities. 
Centre midfield: Lewis Baker, 20 (Vitesse, on loan from Chelsea)
England U20 captain started both Europa League games against Southampton
Striker: Gary Noel, 25 (First Vienna)
Has been prolific in Austria’s third tier.
Striker: Osayamen Osawe, 21 (Hallescher)
Former Blackburn youngster had a good start to life in Germany last season with seven goals.

2014 Review: #8 Charlie I’Anson

2014 REVIEW - I'Anson
2014 has seen Charlie I’Anson make significant progress as he continues to build his career in Spain.

Just two years after appearing for Grimsby Town, Charlie (as he is known in Spain) made his La Liga debut for Elche in 2013.

Now a year on, the 21-year-old defender is a regular in Spain’s second tier as he hopes to impress enough to secure a spot back in his parent club’s starting line-up.

This is not the Englishman’s first spell abroad. When he was only seven years old, he and his family emigrated to Malaga.

This meant his footballing upbringing was on the continent. He was taught to play out from the back, something that may have been quite different had has his family not made the move.

In 2009, he returned to England to sign for Conference side Grimsby Town, turning down a move to Nottingham Forest in the process.

After 17 appearances for the first team, he made the move back to Spain to try and find a club in his adopted homeland.

His break came when he trialled at Elche, then a second division side.

He suitably impressed in order to secure a deal, where he would go on to captain Elche’s second side in the fourth and third tiers.

The start of last year saw I’Anson continue to impress for his side’s second team and another La Liga start soon beckoned in March last year.

After finishing the season off back in the second team, guiding his side to 7th place in the Segunda B division, the 21-year-old joined Alcorcón on loan – with the hope that he would receive first team football in Spain’s second tier

His development towards the latter end of 2014 was hampered by injury, missing five games in a row in December.

However, before the misfortune, he had made nine appearances, eight of which were starts. His solid defensive displays mean Alcorcón currently sit in 9th in the Segunda Division, just two points off the play-offs.

If Charlie manages to re-sustain his form back in Alcorcón’s line-up for the remainder of the season, then 2015 offers the Englishman the very real prospect of becoming a regular amongst some of the world’s greatest players. A return to Elche would see him go toe-to-toe with the likes of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo every week.

2014 has been a very successful year for Charlie. Although it would not have ended as he would have liked, the 21-year-old has made another La Liga start, captained Elche’s second team and played regular football in the Segunda Division. For a defender playing Conference football only three-and-a-half years ago,that, almost certainly, can be regarded as a success.

 

English in action: 15th November

There were several English players who featured overseas yesterday, taking centre stage with many leagues having a rest week due to the international break.

Belgium: Woluwe-Zaventem 0-3 OH Leuven (Belgian Second Division)

John Bostock was once one of the most highly rated English players on the scene when he made his debut for Crystal Palace at the age of 15.

Now seven years on, the midfielder is playing for second division Belgian side OH Leuven and is slowly, but surely, rebuilding his reputation. After being a regular for Antwerp in the same division last year, Bostock made the move to Leuven for the 2014/15 season.

It would seem a smart career move with his new club currently sitting in 6th place, with his old Antwerp languishing in 12th.

Yesterday, Bostock played the full ninety as his side cruised to a comfortable 3-0 win over bottom-of-the-table side Woluwe Zaventem. The only surprise was that the former Tottenham player didn’t score. He has five goals already this season, having only managed one all last season.

Belgium: Bocholter VV 3-1 KVK Tienen (Belgian Third Division)
Staying in Belgium, but a division lower in the pyramid, English defender Amardeep Singh started for KVK Tienen as they travelled to Bocholter VV for a Belgian Third Division match.

Singh has been at Tienen since 2008 but his appearances have been sporadic. After his debut in 2008, the defender waited three years before featuring for the side again, who at the time where in the Second Division.

The 2012/13 saw him become a regular at the back for Tienen and he has returned to the side again this season, where he has missed just one game this year.

Yesterday though, was not a good match for Singh and his team-mates. Having taken the lead early on, Bocholter hit back with three second half goals to secure a 3-1 victory. Singh played the full game though, with his side now 12th in the league.

India: Northeast United 0-0 Pune City (Indian Super League)

Pennant on the ball

After watching two matches from the bench, Jermaine Pennant finally got to make his long awaited debut for Indian Super League franchise Pune City.

In the end, 31-year-old failed to have the impact he would have hoped as he was substituted in the 79th minute with the game heading for a dull goalless draw.

The winger will be hoping his side can improve their form so that they can make the playoffs, with Pune currently sitting in 5th, one spot out side the playoffs.

New Zealand: Southern United 2-1  Waitakere United (ASB Premiership)
18-year-old Derice Richards‘ first ever senior goal was not enough to secure victory for Waitakere United as they slipped to a 2-1 defeat away to Southern United.

The young striker was making just his second appearance for Waitakere since joining the side from Stoke City this summer. The English forward made 10 appearances for Stoke’s under 21 side last term, scoring two goals.

Richards’ goal in the 59th minute equalised for Waitakere but Southern hit back with a goal seven minutes later to secure victory and condemn the away side to a second consecutive loss.

English forward Adam Dickinson also featured for Waitakere in the loss.

Spain: Mallorca 1-1 Alcorcón (Segunda Division)
Alcorcón recorded a solid draw away to Mallorca, in a match which included three red cards and one English defender.

Charlie I’Anson played the full 90 minutes in defence as he guided his team to a draw, despite his side playing with just 9 men for the last seven minutes.

I’Anson is on loan at second-tier side Alcorcón from Elche, having made two appearances in La Liga last year for his parent club – and over 30 for Elche’s second team in the third tier.

Yesterday was his seventh start of the season but he saw his side goal 1-0 down after just four minutes. However, they hit back through Verdés on the stroke of half time to secure a 1-1 draw.

I’Anson also avoided being caught up in the ill-tempered affair as he did not receive any cautions in a match which saw seven players booked, two straight red cards and another player sent off for receiving two yellow cards.

Spain: Marino 0-0 Tenerife B (Tercera Division)

Dropping down two divisions in Spain, Jordan McCourt started for Tenerife B as they travelled to top-of-the-table Marino in the Tercera Division.

Jordan, the single name he is known by in Spain, joined Segunda Division side Tenerife from Marino in the summer but was featuring for the club’s second team in the fourth tier yesterday.

He lined up against his former team in an important clash in the Tercera Division Group 12 as it was first against third.

In the end, the two sides cancelled each other out as they battled out a goalless draw, with 22-year-old midfielder Jordan securing a vital point for his side.

Germany: Regionalliga round-up
Three Englishmen were involved in Regionalliga match day squads, with two of the players featuring in matches.

Kris Thackray

The one player to start was Kris Thackray. The Newcastle-born defender is in his second year of German football, having also enjoyed spells in Malta and Italy. He played for the full ninety, keeping a clean sheet, for second place Alemannia Aachen in a 0-0 away draw to Verl.

Francis Williams was another expatriate to feature. The 30-year-old forward came on as a substitute at half time with his Rödinghausen 2-0 down at home to Bochum II. However, he was unable to help his team come back, as they fell to a an eventual 2-1 loss.

Finally, English defener Rhys Tyler, who is in his fifth year of German football, was an unused substitute as his side Rot-Weiss Oberhausen defeated Viktoria Koln 2-1.

Tomorrow’s update has the chance of including updates from Germany, Italy and Portugal, depending on whether players feature or not.