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November Loan Report: Axel ‘League Champion’ Andresson

Our latest loan round-up sees an academy graduate earn some silverware.

Axel Andresson helped Viking to the Norwegian second tier title
Axel Andresson on Instagram

We’ve got 12 loanees to check in with - both in England and abroad - and some are doing better than others. As usual, we’ve put each player’s total number of appearances in brackets, with their number of games since we last checked in with them outside brackets. Our stand-out loanee for this month at the bottom of the article is, assuming you’ve read the title and looked at the picture, not a surprise choice, but he’s certainly a worthy winner.

Axel Andresson (Viking)

Played: 4 (9)

Goals: 0 (1)

Congratulations to Axel Andresson! His club, Viking, won the Norwegian 1 Divisjon (second tier), earning promotion to the top flight. He’d come in with the side battling for automatic promotion and, in the end, he helped get them over the line. A 4-2 win at promotion rivals Mjøndalen IF proved crucial (think Reading’s 4-2 win at West Ham United in 2012), and they wrapped the league up the following weekend (November 11) by beating Kongsvinger 3-1 at home.

Viking fans were very impressed by Andresson, and want him to stay beyond the end of this loan spell. Mags Andersen (@eisi_disi) said:

“He has done very well. Came in mid-season. Straight into the squad. Seemed like he belonged there from day one. Hard tackling and great in the air. No bullsh*t.

“If I have to point out something negative he is a little bit slow, but overall a very very solid performance.”

Andresson now returns to Reading with his loan spell in Norway finished.

Gabriel Osho (Aldershot Town)

Played: 3 (5)

Goals: 0 (0)

The captain of Reading’s under-23s made his first step into pro football last month by joining Aldershot Town, and they like him so much that they’ve already extended his stay until Christmas. On the pitch, he’s played three times, getting 90 minutes on each occasion.

First up was a 3-0 loss at Gateshead, but he bounced back well to help the Shots to a win (and clean sheet) against Braintree, before putting in a man of the match display in a 1-1 FA Cup draw with League Two side Bradford City.

Josh Barrett (Aldershot Town)

Played: 1 (1)

Goals: 0 (0)

Joining Osho at the EBB Stadium was Josh Barrett, fresh from an impressive Premier League 2 player of the month award. He arrived just in time to play just under an hour in that match against Bradford, and will now be hoping for a run of starts to give him some more first-team experience.

Sam Smith (Oxford United)

Played: 4 (18)

Goals: 1 (2)

Having had a pretty dire start to the season, Oxford United’s league form has picked up in recent weeks, and they’re now unbeaten in six. Unfortunately, Smith hasn’t played much of a part in it. He’s played just two minutes in League One since we last checked in with him, both times in cameos off the bench. His two starts in the last few weeks have both come in the cup, getting 63 minutes in the FA Cup against Forest Green, and scoring in a 3-0 Checkatrade Trophy win at Wycombe Wanderers.

To be fair to him, Smith has admitted his loan spell at the Kassam hasn’t gone well so far, telling the Oxford Mail:

“I’ve come here to prove a point. I feel like it’s not gone to plan so far, but we’ve still got a long way to go. I’ve learnt so much about myself as a player, adapting with new players and it’s been a massive learning curve for me.

“I’ve just been working hard and waiting for an opportunity. I back myself and know if I do get a fair run of games I can provide what I’ve come here to do.”

He’s also been learning from former Royal Jamie Mackie.

“I’ve been watching Jamie a lot recently and he does things for the team that a lot of people don’t realise. That’s what I’ve learned, the way he uses his body and holds up the ball.”

Andrija Novakovich (Fortuna Sittard)

Played: 5 (9)

Goals: 0 (4)

A disappointing spell for the American who, after playing once - in a 3-1 win over De Graafschap - picked up an injury that’s kept him out of the side since the end of October. That’s hugely frustrating as Novakovich had played every minute of Fortuna Sittard’s league campaign up to that point (nine straight matches).

Tennai Watson

Played: 1 (13)

Goals: 0 (0)

Having been playing regularly, Watson is now more or less out of the AFC Wimbledon first team. He’s made just one start recently - a 4-0 tonking of Stevenage Town in the Checkatrade Trophy - and didn’t get off the bench as the Dons nicked a late 1-0 win at Haringey Borough in the FA Cup.

Lewis Ward

Played: 1 (4)

Clean sheets: 1 (1)

Ward still hasn’t broken into Northampton Town’s first team, starting on the bench for all but one of the Cobblers’ league games (he wasn’t in the squad for the other). However, he did get 90 minutes in a 2-0 win over Fulham’s under-23s in the Checkatrade Trophy, so the clean sheet should do him some good.

Ade Shokunbi (Billericay Town)

Played: 3 (5)

Goals: 0 (1)

The 19 year-old has picked up a few more games in National League South - two starts and one substitute appearance. One of those starts came against Brett Williams’ Torquay United, with Shokunbi also replacing former Premier League player Jamie O’Hara against East Thurrock.

Danzell Gravenberch (KSV Roeselare)

Played: 1 (7)

Goals: 0 (0)

Just the one appearance for Danzell in the last few weeks, which saw him pick up two yellow cards against KV Mechelen. That meant he was suspended for the following match, and he wasn’t involved in the next two.

Joey van den Berg (NEC)

Played: 4 (11)

Goals: 0 (1)

Joey turned out four times for NEC and, in typical van den Berg fashion, he was booked in three of those matches. It’s been a polarising run of games for his side on the whole - going from 3-0 win to 5-1 loss, then 3-1 triumph to 4-0 thrashing.

Jokull Andresson

Played: 0 (5)

Clean sheets: 0 (1)

The young ‘keeper continues his rehabilitation at Bulpit Lane after last month’s injury. However, he did take the time to talk to Hungerford Town’s official website on November 3 about his recovery:

“I’m doing really well thank you, it is a bit different because it is the brain so you can’t really do any rehab, so you’re mostly just resting the first few weeks. I’ve been back training for like two and a half weeks and it’s going excellent. It is ‘no-contact’ but should be going full in next week... And hopefully I am back soon in that Hungerford shirt which I love so much!”

James Hillson (Salisbury FC)

Working alongside former pundit Steve Claridge, Hillson has taken to the Southern League Premier Division South like a duck to water. The youngster earned rave reviews from Salisbury fans on his debut - a 3-0 win at Farnborough - including this very high praise:

Salisbury are now flying in the league with 10 (TEN) wins in a row, and are vying for promotion to National League South.

My stand-out loanee: Axel Andresson

Who else? The young Icelander has been fantastic for Viking in his brief loan spell there - not only playing regularly but also helping them get over the line and win promotion to the Norwegian Premier League.

That experience could (hopefully will) resurrect his fortunes at Reading. Andresson made his senior debut last season but hasn’t properly broken into the first team just yet. However, with the defence looking shaky at the moment - and the contracts of John O’Shea and Paul McShane up next summer - the 20 year-old should have a future in Berkshire.

Otherwise, Viking fans would be more than happy to see him stay. We asked Mags Andersen on Twitter if they want the defender to stick around, and he simply said: “absolutely!”

NB: Young goalie Adam Desbois is on loan at Hartley Wintney of the Southern League Premier South division but we don’t much enough info about his progress so far.