Martinez has ensured some of the brightest talent coming through the ranks are getting to play at a competitive level by sending the boys out on loan throughout the Football League. But two players who took the ferry ‘cross the Mersey in January for a loan spell with Tranmere Rovers have been recalled this week.
We’ve acquired the thoughts of Tranmere supporter and football writer Paul Harper to get the verdict on Matthew Pennington and Matthew Kennedy.
Matthew Pennington and Matthew Kennedy have both been on loan at Tranmere since January. Have the loans been a success?
Yes I’d say that both players have been a relative success for us.
Pennington came in for an injury and was nice and solid, while Kennedy came in to give us a bit of attacking flair and both players did well and I think they got better and better with each game. It’s been disappointing for us that they’ve been recalled, but you have to expect that with loan players, especially if they do well for you.
Can you give us the low-down on the pair? What are their biggest attributes?
Pennington played right-back for us. He is quite tall, good and solid defensively and got forward well. He is a bag of energy and will run all day long and he worked well down our right-hand side giving us some width and putting in some decent crosses. He is good in the air and got himself a goal with a header from a corner kick.
Kennedy is a small tricky winger in the Pat Nevin mould, for those Everton fans who go back that far. He has a very good touch, good turn of speed and is technically very good on the ball. He can beat a man with a trick or with his pace, definitely one to look out for in the future at Goodison.
What has been their biggest contribution to Tranmere over the course of the loan? Which particular game(s) have they really stood out in?
Both players have started every game during their loan spells, Pennington playing 90 minutes in each of those while Kennedy has often been taken off in the latter stages of games. They both had their best games, last Saturday at home to Coventry. Pennington won the penalty which kick-started our victory, while Kennedy set up the third goal for Jake Kirby.
Which Matty would you say is the better player?
Well, they play different positions and are very different players, so it would be difficult to say one is better than the other.
Pennington has got good defensive qualities while Kennedy has attacking flair, good footwork and technical ability. I think both players should go on to have decent careers.
Their initial loans were extended recently, however the pair were re-called by Everton on Monday, without much of an explanation. Why do you suspect they were brought back so abruptly?
Yes their loans were extended last week and then they were recalled last weekend, so it brings me to think that it’s not quite the reason they have publicly stated, which was ‘to strengthen the development squad’. But it is Everton’s prerogative so we just have to get on with it.
Everton brought Kennedy to the club from Kilmarnock in 2012 and is well regarded at the club as a future star. Do you think he would be ready for first-team action?
I don’t think he’s ready for the Premier League just yet. He has great ability, no doubt about that, but he just needs to become more consistent and work on his final ball.
That side of his game was getting better as his loan spell progressed, but I think it can be improved a lot more. He’s definitely a player to look out for in the future though. Maybe a loan spell in the Championship would be the best way to go with him before proving he is worth a chance in Everton’s first team.
From what you have seen, do you think they have what it takes to be Premier League regulars?
It’s a difficult question to answer, simply because they were playing against much lesser players than you would expect to face week-in week-out in the Premier League. But both lads have good attributes which you’d expect from top-flight players.
There’s also a question of whether they’ll be given a chance at Everton. You see so many young players who come through the ranks at big clubs who never get a game and then flutter away without a trace because they aren’t given an opportunity. But I definitely think both players have a chance of making it if they continue to improve as we have seen during their short time at Tranmere.