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: 6th December

Belgium: Dessel Sport 1-1 OH Leuven (Second Division)

John Bostock.

John Bostock‘s first goal in four games ensured OH Leuven secured a point as they drew 1-1 with Dessel Sport.

The hosts were in the bottom two before the match and took the lead in the seventh minute. The equaliser came half an hour later, when Bostock fired home his sixth of the season. The six goals scored by the English midfielder this season by far ranks as his best for the number of goals in a single season, with his previous best being just two.

The visitors had a man sent off in the second half but managed to hold on for the draw.

Cyprus: AEL 1-1 Nea Salamis (1. Division)
English goalkeeper Corrin Brooks-Meade started in goal for Nea Salamis in Cyprus’ top division, as his side travelled to AEL for a match which saw just three domestically-born players start.

In a match with a high proportion of foreigners, it was two Africans who got themselves on the score-sheet.

First, Brooks-Meade’s side took the lead through Nigerian forward Eze Vincent Okeuhie but in the second half, AEL hit back through Mauritanian midfielder Diallo Guidilèye.

The former Fulham goalkeeper picked up a booking in the match, as his side remain 8th in the league.

Germany: Chemnitzer 0-2 Hallescher (3. Liga)
5,603 people watched on as Chemnitzer took on Hallescher in Germany’s third tier.

English forward Osayaman Osawe was on the bench for the visitors and his side had victory wrapped up when he was introduced to match in the 91st minute.

Two first half goals from Hallescher meant Osawe’s 13th substitute appearance of the season ended in a 2-0 win.

Germany: Alemannia Aachen 3-0 Wattenscheid (Regionalliga)
English defender Kris Thackray played the whole match as his side Alemannia Aachen cruised to a 3-0 home win over Wattenscheid in Germany’s fourth tier.

Thackray helped his side keep a clean sheet as they win took them top of the Regionalliga West.

Germany: Kray 0-0 Rödinghausen (Regionalliga)
Also in the Regionalliga West, English forward Francis Williams played the full ninety for Rödinghausen as they drew 0-0 away to Kray.

The result leaves the two sides 13th and 12th respectively.

Greece: Veria 2-0 Platanias (Super League)
Having come on as a substitute on Wednesday evening, English forward Walter Figueira was given his first league start of the season as his Platanias side headed to Veria.

It turned out to be a match to forget for the former Chelsea player as he was replaced after 50 minutes with his side already one goal down.

Veria went on to score once more as they ran out 2-0 winners and moved up to 4th in the table. Platanias slip to 13th, in a league which contains 18 teams.

India: Pune City 0-1 Delhi Dynamos (Indian Super League)
Pune City suffered a late defeat against Delhi Dynamos, as the visitors scored an 88th minute winner to take all three points in the Indian Super League.

English winger Jermaine Pennant continues to have a less than exciting time in India, as he played the whole match for Pune City.

Pune have won just one match that the former Stoke winger has featured in.

Italy: Pro Patria 1-1 Renate (Lega Pro)
English defender Myles Anderson was the only non-Italian player to start as his side Pro Patria hosted Renate in the country’s third tier.

Anderson’s side took the lead in the first half but had to settle for a draw after Renate equalised in the second half.

The draw means Pro Patria remain in the league’s bottom three.

Malta: Valletta 4-1 Floriana (Premier League)

Lateef Elford-Alliyu in action earlier in the season.

English forward Lateef Elford-Alliyu was the hero as his grabbed a hat-trick to help Valletta to a 4-1 win over Floriana.

The former West Brom man scored after just two minutes to give his side an early lead and followed that up with two more strikes, wrapping up his hat-trick was a penalty in the 60th minute.

The hat-trick means Elford-Alliyu has five goals in his last matches, and eight overall in the league this season.

Portugal: Benfica 3-0 Belenenses (Primeira Liga)
English goalkeeper Matt Jones faced the unenviable task of starting between the sticks for Belenenses as they took on top-of-the-league Benfica in front of 46,000 spectators.

Jones was one of only two non-domestic players to start for the away side, whereas Benfica lined-up with just one Portuguese player.

Jones and his Belenenses team-mates remained solid for over a hour, before three goals in final half an hour from Benfica consigned the visitors to just their third loss of the season.

On the bench
Ashley Cole was an unused sub as his Roma side drew 2-2 at home to Sassuolo.

English in action: 16th November

Whilst most Englishmen were waking on Sunday satisfied from England’s 3-1 win over Slovenia the night before, three players took to the field.

Italy: Pro Patria 1-2 Arezzo (Lega Pro Girone A)
Westminster-born defender Myles Anderson made the bench once for Blackburn Rovers in the Premier League and now, via spells at Exeter, Aldershot and Monza, he plays his football for Pro Patria.

The 24-year-old defender moved to the continent last season when he joined Italian fourth-tier side Monza. After eight appearances for them last season, he joined third-tier side Pro Patria this summer.

Yesterday, Anderson was making his ninth start of the season as his side hosted Arezzo, who sat eight places in the table in 10th place. The match turned out to be a disappointing one for Anderson, who played the full ninety minutes as his team lost 2-1. The defender also picked up a booking to cap a disappointing day at the office.

India: Delhi Dynamos 0-1 Kerala Blasters (Indian Super League)
44-year-old player/manager David James has defied his age this year in the Indian Super League and kept up his good form yesterday as he recorded a fourth consecutive clean sheet as his side Kerala Blasters defeated Delhi Dynamos 1-0.

The former England international goalkeeper remained solid in goal once again and yesterday’s victory saw the Blasters move into third place in the Indian Super League.

The only goal of the game came in the 61st minute when Nigerian substitute Penn Orji scored following an assist from former Preston North End forward Iain Hume.

USA: San Antonio Scorpions 2-1 Fort Lauderdale Strikers (NASL Soccer Bowl)

Mark Anderson (left).

The 2014 season in America is reaching its climax and the NASL (USA’s second tier) is no different as the San Antonio Scorpions took on the Fort Lauderdale Strikers in the 2014 Soccer Bowl, the NASL playoff final.

The NASL season is split into a Spring and Fall championship. The winner of each makes the playoffs, as well as the two teams with the best combined records over the two championships. San Antonio qualified as the winners of the Fall championship, Fort Lauderdale qualified with one of the best combined records.

The two teams successfully negotiated their way through the playoff semi-finals to make the playoff final, known as the Soccer Bowl.

The Englishmen involved in the final was Mark Anderson, who is enjoying his third season at the Strikers. The 25-year-old midfielder from Durham, made the move to the States in 2005 to study and joined the Strikers in 2012. He started in centre midfield in the eagerly anticipated Soccer Bowl.

Unfortunately, although Anderson contributed on a personal level, he was unable to guide the Strikers to the title as San Antonio secured a 2-1 win to secure their first ever Soccer Bowl.

The Scorpions scored twice midway through the second half and despite the Strikers pulling one back through Walter Ramirez, a goal set up by Anderson, they could not score a second and fell to a loss at the final hurdle.