Will Scott Loach be the fall guy following arrival of Stephen Henderson?
STEPHEN Henderson will today become Paul Jewell’s EIGHTH loan signing in his first-team squad – and his fifth new arrival in less than two weeks.
The keeper, who almost moved to Portman Road on a permanent basis from Portsmouth in January before joining West Ham, has been unable to break into the Hammers’ promising start to the Premier League.
Irons boss Sam Allardyce has sanctioned a loan move and 24-year-old Henderson will today tie up a three-month deal ahead of Town’s trip to Hull City on Saturday.
Given the speed and surprise at which the move has taken place, it would be a big shock if Henderson didn’t start at the KC Stadium in place of the luckless Scott Loach or reserve keeper Arran Lee-Barrett.
That would be harsh on Loach who has been one of Town’s best performers despite their poor start to the season – he was named joint-winner of the Star’s player of the month for September.
But Loach had looked a little unsure when dealing with crosses and he was forced to apologise following his performance against Cardiff City in Town’s last match.
He allowed Heidar Helguson to equalise for Cardiff City before remaining rooted on his line as the striker scored a late winner in the 2-1 win.
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Now it seems Jewell has decided to ensure his bargain-buy summer signing has strong competition for a starting spot – although what Lee-Barrett, who is out of contract in the summer, must be thinking is anybody’s guess.
Henderson was only at Pompey for five months before Jewell looked to make a triple signing of the keeper plus his team mates Joel Ward and Jason Pearce.
It quickly turned into a saga with a fee for the stopper eventually agreed on the final day of the transfer window, but Jewell claimed at the time that the wage demands of Henderson were a major obstacle.
Henderson’s impending arrival was largely met with concern by Town fans who believe the long-term plans originally advocated by Jewell in the summer have been shunned.
The loan signings of Henderson, Richie Wellens, Bilel Mohsni and DJ Campbell all point to a manager desperately looking to move his side away from the bottom three – and escape the sack in the process.
But while Daryl Murphy and Guirane N’Daw are classed as overseas, Jewell will only be able to name five of the remaining six loanees in his 18-man matchday squad.
In one sense, Jewell cannot be blamed for this as he needs a huge upturn in fortune to have any chance of winning a new contract by staving off any relegation threat.
He would also find it very difficult to attract players to the club in the January transfer window if they are battling against the drop.
But with five of the eight loanees currently leaving in the New Year or before, it means the Blues boss will have to again endure a frantic transfer window in January – and probably next summer as well.