Relegated outfit Derby County look set to have very few players at their disposal when the start of next month comes along, with several first-teamers out of contract.
At this stage, they are unable to tie players down to new deals with a takeover deal still yet to be complete – and the withdrawal of former preferred bidder Chris Kirchner was a further blow in their quest to get an agreement for the club signed and sealed.
It may take a while for another bidder to finalise a deal and that could mean they barely have a starting lineup to put together when the start of next season comes along, even with Wayne Rooney planning transfers behind the scenes.
Quiz: Can you name which club these 27 ex-Derby County players are playing for now?
Because of this, it seems almost mad that they could end up loaning out players towards the latter stages of the window if a takeover does materialise and the funds are made available for Rooney to rebuild his squad, with some of their first-teamers including Tom Lawrence likely to move on regardless of what happens at Pride Park.
However, if the Manchester United legend can add a sufficient amount of depth in some areas, that could potentially enable some of their youngsters to be shipped out on loan spells away from Pride Park.
With this a real possibility, we take a look at two Rams that could or should be loaned out when the club’s situation vastly improves.
20-year-old Stretton made nine Championship appearances last term with the vast majority of these displays coming during the early stages of the season, even managing to get on the scoresheet against Peterborough United in August to set the Rams on course for a victory before late drama ruined their day.
Luke Plange overtook him in the pecking order and he didn’t get much of a chance in the first team for much of the season – but he did score eight goals in 13 Premier League 2 appearances during 2021/22 and is clearly a talented young forward.
To boost his development and chances of winning caps at a youth international level for Scotland, the forward should be given the chance to shine elsewhere in the EFL with a League Two loan potentially the best option for him.
However, additions will be needed first with Plange leaving for Crystal Palace and Colin Kazim-Richards set to depart Pride Park this summer unless he’s offered fresh terms to remain in the East Midlands.
Stretton’s future may also depend on whether Bartosz Cybulski is included in the first team again after making a good impression at a senior level towards the end of last season.
It will be interesting to see whether he gets handed a new deal because at 22, he ideally needs to be forcing his way into the first team now.
If he is handed a new deal though, you could see him being pushed down the pecking order with the likes of Max Bird, Jason Knight, Krystian Bielik, Liam Thompson, Louie Watson and Louie Sibley all available as midfield options for Rooney if the quintet remain with the Rams beyond the summer, with Ravel Morrison also able to play in an advanced midfield role.
Hutchinson had a reasonably decent spell at Crawley Town as a regular first-teamer in West Sussex during the second half of last term, making 19 appearances and recording two goals and two assists in the process – and could potentially be sent back out on loan to the fourth tier.
A lower-end third-tier side may also be an option, though the Rams may be wary about sending one of their players to a league rival.
It looks as though the club would benefit from sending a midfield or two on loan though, especially if they make more additions in this department in the coming months as they potentially look to give themselves the best chance of bouncing back to the Championship at the first time of asking.