This article is part of Football FanCast’s Loan Watch series, which takes a closer look at those players who are aiming to galvanise their careers away from the spotlight of their parent club.
Kieran Dowell is on loan in the Championship again this season but his career seems to be stagnating a little at Derby County.
The 21-year-old made a big impression in his first taste of senior football when turning out for Nottingham Forest in 2017/18, scoring nine goals and assisting four in 38 league games, but he has failed to take advantage since.
Upon his return to Merseyside he didn’t do enough to prove to then newly-appointed Marco Silva that he could have a role to play in the first-team, and he subsequently went out on loan to Sheffield United.
After a frustrating spell with the Blades where he made only eight starts, he has been handed a first-team place by Phillip Cocu at Derby, but so far has failed to make the most of his opportunity.
In his six Championship matches the Rams have just one win, against lowly Huddersfield, and Dowell’s failure to influence the game has been a contributing factor to their poor form, with him dropping to the bench against Cardiff last week.
He has no goals and only one assist to show for his efforts so far and one aspect of his game which is often reliable – his passing ability – has been underwhelming, boasting a pass accuracy of just 77%, according to WhoScored.
However, he has achieved an average of 1.7 key passes per game, which shows his link-up play with his teammates can be effective, and therefore he needs to be more adventurous in his positioning, and get in and around the final third more often.
Currently, the difficulty is that Tom Lawrence is taking up similar positions to Dowell, and Cocu’s system focuses more on keeping possession than risky passes forward – as evidenced by their average of 54% possession this term – and that has limited Dowell’s significance somewhat.
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The Toffees academy product has to be more decisive in attack. Dowell has shown he has ability on the ball, improving his dribbling from last season, with an average of 1.3 successful dribbles in this campaign compared to 0.4 per game whilst at Sheffield United, but his return in terms of goals and assists will have to improve.
His use of the ball will ultimately decide whether he has a future at Everton. He is competing for a place with the likes of Gylfi Sigurdsson and Bernard, two players who are capable of producing assists and dangerous balls in the opposition penalty area on a regular basis.