By Scott Taylor
Sheyi Ojo has signed for Championship side Wigan Athletic on loan from Liverpool until the end of the season. The midfielder, 17, has been impressive for the club’s Under 18 and Under 21s sides this season. He becomes the Latics’ fifth signing and has a clause which allows him to be recalled if he is not getting the required game time.
Ojo signed for the Reds from MK Dons in the summer of 2011 for a fee of around £2m. Although he has not made his debut for the first team this season, the winger has been in and around the first team squad, making the substitute’s bench for the games against Burnley and Leicester.
However, this four-month loan deal will see Ojo gain valuable experience in an environment where the results counts for much more than just pride, as it does in Academy football. The main difference between professional and academy football is that the latter is about development whereas professional football is about making a living and every point matters.
The starlet has scored two goals in five appearances for the Under 19s this season in the UEFA Youth League as well as featuring six times in the Under 21 Premier League, memorably netting a brace at West Ham in a 4-0 victory earlier in the season.
Ojo has earned three caps for England’s Under 18 side and with plenty of experience in the second tier, it shouldn’t be long before he is involved in the Under 19 national side, which featured fellow Liverpool team-mates Jordon Ibe and Lloyd Jones. In his last outing for the Under 18 national side, Ojo netted twice in the 4-1 win over Poland in November.
Wigan manager Malky Mackay revealed that he went to great lengths to get his man, but realises that Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers sees him firmly in his plans. He told the official Wigan website:
“I spoke to Brendan Rodgers at length about Sheyi [Ojo], and we both agreed that this is the next stage of his development. Brendan sees him as a Liverpool player of the future and will take him into his squad in the summer. We both hope that his time at Wigan Athletic can be a productive one for both parties.”
Elsewhere, Liverpool Under 21 captain Lloyd Jones has extended his loan spell at League Two side Cheltenham Town, which will see his stay with Paul Buckle’s side until the end of the season. Jones, 19, has featured five times for the Robins during his month long stay in Gloucestershire, playing as a centre-back as well as a right-back.
Fellow Liverpool loanees Jack Dunn and Kevin Stewart have both returned to Liverpool following one-month loan deals. Striker Dunn returns after picking up a hamstring injury whilst midfielder Kevin Stewart returns following a thigh injury. There is no update on whether they will return once fit again.