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.

English in Action: Weekend 8-10 May

A busy weekend for Englishmen abroad saw some important contributions from the expatriates.

On Friday night in Austria, striker Gary Noel bagged a brace for his side First Vienna, as they defeated Donaufield 3-1 in the country’s third tier. It was the English forward’s sixth goal in eleven appearances since he made the move to Vienna in March.

On Saturday, newly-promoted PS Kemi Kings hosted their first game of the season against Haka. Starting up front was Billy Ions, now in his third season at the Finnish club. The former Newcastle United youth player scored his club’s third in a 3-2 win to secure back-to-back wins in the country’s second tier.

In Japan, ex-England international Jay Bothroyd failed to extend his scoring streak to four games but his side Júbilo Iwata still managed to defeat Mito HollyHock 2-1. The former Cardiff City striker has five goals in eight games since the move to Asia and his side currently sit top of J. League 2 after 13 games.

Over in America, there were impressive performances from a couple of Englishmen. First, midfielder Luke Mulholland fired home his second goal of the season to guide Real Salt Lake to a 2-1 away win over Chicago Fire. Then in Florida, Luke Boden provided the assist for Aurelien Collin’s 90th minute equaliser as Orlando City secured a late point at home to New England Revolution. Former Middlesbrough defender Seb Hines also played the full ninety for Orlando.

Sunday was a prolific day for England’s ex-pats, with no fewer than eight exiles on the score-sheets for their respective clubs.

In Belgium, John Bostock scored OH Leuven’s only goal of the game as they drew 1-1 with AS Eupen in the Second Division playoffs. After finishing fifth in the league, Bostock’s side are in a four-way battle to play Belgian Pro League football next season, with three teams from the Second Division competing with one from the top tier.

Former Walsall defender Netan Sansara opened the scoring as his side Fredrikstad secured a much-needed 3-1 win over Ranheim. Fredrikstad, now in their third season in Norway’s second tier, had started the season poorly, failing to win any of their first six games of the season but a goal from club captain Sansara helped secure maximum points for the first time on Sunday.

In Sweden’s top tier, Hakeem Araba continued his fine form, making it four goals in four games as he scored the only goal of the game to secure victory for Falkenberg over Halmstad. The English striker has now scored in four games in a row, having previously failed to find the net in his first four games of the season. The video below shows highlights of the match.

In the country’s second tier, Östersunds FK managed by former West Brom defender Graham Potter, secured a 2-1 away win over AFC United helped by a goal from Jamie Hopcutt. James Sinclair was an unused sub for Potter’s side.

In the MLS, it was the usual suspects making the headlines. Dom Dwyer‘s third goal of the season picked up a point for Sporting Kansas City who drew 1-1 away to DC United. Elsewhere, a brace from Bradley Wright-Phillips was enough to secure victory for Red Bulls over City in the first ever New York derby. Lloyd Sam was also involved, assisting Wright-Phillips’ first of the night.

Finally, in the NASL, the country’s second tier, goals from Tomi Ameobi and Ritchie Jones were not enough to prevent a 4-2 loss for FC Edmonton away to New York Cosmos, who had Spanish legend Raul on the score-sheet. The English pair now both have three goals each this season.

English in action: 28th November

Friday night football action saw Englishmen feature in five different countries across two continents.

Austria: St. Polten 2-2 Kapfenberger (1. Liga)
English forward Gary Noel has been in and out of St. Polten’s first team this season. However, having scored five goals in four starts for the club’s second team, he had earned a place on the bench as St. Polten took on Kapfenberger in Austria’s second tier.

Noel watched an action packed first 80 minutes from the bench as the visitors twice cancelled out St. Polten goals. The English forward was then introduced for the final ten minutes of the match but could not score a winner for his side as the game ended 2-2.

Belgium: Zulte-Waregem 2-1 Gent (Pro League)
To Belgium’s top tier now where 14th place Zulte-Wargem hosted a Gent side which could go top with a victory.

English midfielder Chuks Aneke was one of seven foreigners to start for Waregem as they looked to upset their higher-ranked visitors.

After just 17 minutes though, it looked like the favourites were going to win as Gent took the lead.

However, the hosts hit back, and after dominating the second half, they scored two goals to turn the game around a secure a surprise 2-1 win.

Aneke played the full ninety minutes, having missed just one match all season.

Colombia: Unión Magdalena 1-1 Deportivo Pereira (Primera B)
To Colombia for the first time on this blog now, as English midfielder George Saunders was on the bench for Unión Magdalena as they hosted Deportivo Pereira.

25-year-old Saunders is now in his second year in Colombia, having already played for América de Cali and Fortaleza as well as current side Unión Magdalena in the South American country. Earlier in the year, he made seven appearances for Fortaleza in the country’s top tier, but a mid-season switch now sees him play for Unión in the second tier.

Yesterday’s match was part of the ‘Torneo Finalización’ semi-finals. An unusual league format is used in Colombia’s second tier, which means Unión, who finished fifth in the ‘Torneo Finalización’, are playing in the semi-finals, in which the top eight teams were split into the two groups of four, with the winner of each going into the final.

Saunders entered the match after 73 minutes with his side one-nil down. His appearance seemed to make an instant impact though, as just two minutes after coming on, his side equalised through a penalty to secure a 1-1 draw.

Germany: Alemannia Aachen 2-1 Sportfreunde Sigen (Regionalliga)

Thackray in action earlier in the season

English centre-back Kris Thackray started for table-toppers Alemannia Aachen as they hosted Sportfreunde Sigen in Germany’s fourth tier.

The match turned out to be a brilliant game for the defender, who has had spells in Italy and Malta. In the 41st minute, he gave his side the lead with his first league goal since April 2013.

The visitors later equalised but Alemannia scored an 85th minute winner, to keep them at the top of the league.

Netherlands: VVV Venlo 1-0 Telstar (Eerste Divisie)
English winger Medy Elito was in the starting line-up for VVV Venlo as they looked to make it back-to-back wins with a game against Telstar.

VVV would have been expecting a win against a side several places below them in the table but the visitors frustrated their hosts for large periods of the game.

The breakthrough eventually came though, as an 80th minute goal from Moroccan substitute Abdelaziz Khalouta gave VVV the three points.

Elito played the full ninety minutes.

 

English in action: 14th November

There has been a definite lack of Englishmen playing abroad in the past few days but one expatriate did make an impression yesterday.

Austria: Schwechat 4-2 St. Pölten II (Regionalliga Ost)

Gary Noel celebrates after scoring for St. Polten earlier this year

The only Englishman who featured overseas yesterday was 24-year-old Gary Noel. The striker started for St. Pölten II as they travelled to Schwechat for a Regionalliga Ost (Regional League East) match, one of Austria’s regional third tiers.

Noel is now enjoying his fourth season in Austria, after beginning his continental adventure in 2011 when he joined Regionalliga side Admira II from English Conference side Lewes.

After a year at Admira II, Noel joined Schwechat in the same division, where he fired 20 goals in 27 games to earn a move to St. Pölten, who play a division higher in the 1. Liga.

He managed seven goals last year at Pölten and also has one goal for them so far this year but yesterday he was playing for the club’s second team, back in the third tier.

The match saw Noel line up against his old club, Schwechat and he gave them a timely reminder of his talent when he equalised in the 19th minute to make it 1-1.

Unfortunately, Schwechat hit three second half goals to condemn St. Pölten II to a 4-2 loss. Noel, however, now has five goals in four games for St. Pölten’s second team this year.

Tomorrow’s update is set to feature several players with many leagues around the world carrying on through the international break. Updates to come from games in Spain, New Zealand and more!