Southampton: How are Reed, Hesketh and Jones doing out on loan?

A host of Southampton players were sent out on loan deals at the beginning of the 2019/20 season and currently find themselves spread as wide as Spain, Turkey and Belgium.

However, a group also find themselves in the lower leagues in England as they bid to get some senior football under their belt.

Spending time with a first-team where results mean more than at academy level is crucial for the development of young players and their future prospects with Saints.

One player who has had plenty of first-team action away from St Mary’s in recent seasons is midfielder Harrison Reed.

After seasons with Norwich City and Blackburn Rovers, the 24-year-old is with Fulham this campaign as they look to bounce back to the Premier League at the first time of asking.

LONDON, ENGLAND – SEPTEMBER 27: Harrison Reed of Fulham passes the ball under pressure from Joe Williams of Wigan Athletic during the Sky Bet Championship match between Fulham and Wigan Athletic at Craven Cottage on September 27, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Alex Burstow/Getty Images)

To date, Reed has made 13 appearances for the Cottagers, with 10 of those being starts in the Championship.

In previous loan spells, he has played a variety of positions such as wing-back. But in London he is back to his natural habitat in the centre of midfield.

Fulham currently find themselves in 3rd in the second-tier after nine wins, five draws and four defeats from their opening 18 games.

Stepping down another league we find all three of Jake Hesketh, Alfie Jones and Thomas O’Connor, who are all in the earlier stages of their development when compared to Reed.

Hesketh is with Lincoln City as they look to secure their place in League One in their first season back in the third-tier.

The 23-year-old has made four starts so far and nine appearances overall across three different competitions but looks to have a long way to go to prove himself as a regular in the Imps’ line-up.

Lincoln are currently 18th in League One, whilst Alfie Jones and Thomas O’Connor sit three places and three points higher with Gillingham.

Both have had a great amount of time on the pitch so far and are regular starters for the Gills.

Jones is a centre-back by trade but has filled a defensive-midfield role for his loan club to date, making 20 starts and scoring two league goals along the way.

O’Connor has come through the Saints ranks as a centre-back too but has played as both a left-back and a left-midfielder this campaign.

14 appearances – of which 13 have been starts – have come his way and he also netted a late equaliser in a 1-1 draw with Bristol Rovers back in September.

All four will be gaining valuable experience this season but it appears that Reed, Jones and O’Connor are having a better time than Hesketh.

Reed is now old enough to look to forge a career of his own and will maybe be looking to leave Saints if he isn’t given a significant squad role next season. Hesketh could be in a similar situation, whilst Jones and O’Connor look to be good prospects for the club to hang onto.

Next: Saints loan watch - Carrillo and Hoedt
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