This article is part of Football League World’s ‘The Verdict‘ series, which provides personal opinions from the FLW writers regarding the latest breaking news, teams, players, managers, potential signings and more…
An EFL rule change could breathe new life into Bristol City’s play-off hopes as it appears they may be able to use returning loanees such as Liam Walsh and Joe Morrell.
Yesterday, Birmingham City announced the return of three loanees, Odin Bailey (Forest Green Rovers), Charlie Lakin (Stevenage) and Josh Dacres-Cogley, and confirmed that following a rule change the players would be available for the end of the 2019/20 campaign.
In the announcement, the Blues noted: “After a change in EFL rules, voted for by clubs, it means players loaned out on Standard and International Loans who have returned to their parent side are eligible for them again.”
Walsh has had a hugely impressive season at League One champions Coventry City, scooping their young player of the year, while Morrell’s performances for Lincoln City earned him a place in Ryan Giggs’ Wales squad.
So, should Lee Johnson look to use the two central midfielders in the run in? And would that boost the Robins play-off chances?
We asked our FLW writers for their thoughts…
It’s a massive boost for Bristol City in the sense that they didn’t think they would be able to use him before now.
Both Walsh and Morrell have been excellent on loan in League One this season, especially Walsh, who has played an influential role in Coventry’s promotion-winning campaign.
Morrell was also excellent during his time at Lincoln City, and both players will now return to Ashton Gate hopeful of breaking into Lee Johnson’s side.
They have an abundance of talent in the middle of the park and game time is by no means guaranteed, but you can’t deny that they are really exciting options to have available ahead of eight massive games for the Robins.
They could bring real energy and something different to the midfield, and the two players are bound to be feeling full of confidence after impressive loan spells away this term.
A bit of competition for places certainly won’t do any harm.
Walsh in particular has really impressed me in his loan spell with Coventry City, as they won promotion back into the Championship this season.
Whilst Morrell has made a positive impact whilst with Lincoln City, so it’s good to have competition for places back in Lee Johnson’s side.
They’re both still early into their senior careers, and will be eager to make a name for themselves with the Bristol City squad.
Walsh is more likely to feature in the matchday squad for the Robins for me, and he could be a reliable option to call upon for Lee Johnson in the remaining eight matches of this year’s campaign.
This could be a real boost to Bristol City’s promotion push towards the Premier League this season.
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It’d certainly be a boost to have them in and around the team.
However, I think an element of continuity is needed here and Johnson should stick with the players that have got them to this elevated position in the Sky Bet Championship.
There are already a number of class midfielders at Ashton Gate, with the likes of Han Noah-Massengo and Adam Nagy competing for central midfield berths.
I’m a massive fan of Liam Walsh though, he’s played a leading role in what turned out to be a title winning campaign for Coventry City – I expect him to be a key component in the Robins side for years to come.
Walsh offers guile, strong dribbling ability and an eye for a pass, and could be utilised if injuries start materialising at the cub – though I feel his time at City will come next season.