In an occasional series, the Foxes Trust links up with fellow Trusts where a Leicester City player has gone on loan to get a fan’s view of how they are doing
Today we feature the views of Chris Saxon from the Millers Trust on George Hirst’s initial start at Rotherham
“When Rotherham manager Paul Warne finally got his man and signed George Hirst on a season long loan, there was no doubts that great things were expected from him by management and fans alike. This was a player well known in the local South Yorkshire football scene having unceremoniously departed rivals Sheffield Wednesday just a couple of years ago despite the offer of a long contract.
A promising young player established in the England youth set up, he’d seemingly lost his way after signing for Belgian Second Division side, Leuvan.
I’m not sure how he fared overall in Belgium, but stats show he played 22 games and scored just three times! Hardly setting the Belgian League alight, however he must have done something right as it was enough to persuade Premiership Leicester City to bring him home.
Two appearances and an entire season passed before the Millers manager finally got his man. Apparently the two clubs get on well and the Foxes had been impressed with the progress of keeper Daniel Iversen during a similar loan spell, last season.
A lack of goals in pre season and a Championship opener at Wycombe had highlighted a weakness in the final third and it was clear we’d struggle to get the goals needed to compete at this level.
Hirst’s arrival was heralded by our management team as the final piece in the jigsaw, the player likely to get the goals which might see us firmly established as a Championship club.
First impressions were positive. Coming on as a second half substitute against Millwall in our opening home fixture, he offered promise with a couple of efforts on goal despite clearly looking less than match fit. He offered something different, something new. Enthusiasm, pace and an eye for goal. Despite finishing on the losing side that day, most of us were impressed enough to believe that George would be a good addition to our team.
He must also have impressed Paul Warne as he started the next game away to Birmingham City. He struggled a bit in this game and was substituted early second half in a dull uninspiring game devoid of any real quality from either team. A tough uncompromising Birmingham back line proved difficult for the raw, youthful striker but he would surely improve.
Next up another start against Huddersfield Town. A great first half performance against a decent team too with Hirst much more prominent and creating a few goal scoring opportunities. He was once more replaced though early on second half as his lack of match fitness was still very apparent. He might have got that elusive first goal that day had it not been for a goal line clearance.
Surprisingly in my opinion, he was an unused substitute for the next two games before coming on as a second half substitute in each of the three games which we have completed to date.
His match fitness is improving which is to be expected given that Paul Warne was our fitness coach prior to being appointed manager and last season in League One we were often hailed as the fittest team in the division.
He’s clearly desperate to make an impression and is fully aware of why he was brought in. He’s joined a team that should comfortably survive in this league providing they find that regular goal scorer.
Whether George Hirst is that man remains to be seen. Judging by our fans forums and social media, Millers supporters are so far divided. There are those that would have wished for someone more experienced and playing regularly! Others are prepared to give him a chance, time to adapt to our way of playing. I’ve heard some say, “There’s a really good player in there!” “ he’ll prove to be a great addition to our squad” Others are less complimentary.
In my opinion, based solely on what I’ve seen, and I’ve seen every minute of our games to date, he’s young and raw and at times overly keen to impress. He’s struggled to get to grips with a style of play which I suspect is completely new to him. He’s found it difficult against seasoned defenders in a tough division often labelled as Premiership 2.
On the plus side, his enthusiasm is there for all to see, however, at this level enthusiasm is unlikely to be enough. It’s very early days and perhaps with more game time under his belt he might well fulfil that promise.
He has shown some really good touches and his shoot on sight policy should eventually pay dividends. He’s quick for a tall player and offers something different. I believe he would benefit from an extended run in our starting eleven.
However, therein lies the problem. This season, with games coming along thick and fast we have four strikers to choose from. Paul Warne likes to keep his squad happy and has so far juggled the starting eleven frequently. Whether, he will buck that trend and give Hirst the game time I think he needs remains to be seen. He will also be under pressure to pick players who are most likely to score goals, so far none of our regular strikers have remotely looked capable of finding the net on a regular basis. If George does start scoring, he should get that regular game time. It’s up to him. “
Reports on Kieran Dewsbury-Hall and Darnell Johnson progress at Luton and Wigan respectively will follow later this year
The views expressed in this report are the opinions of the Trust member nominated to file the report only and do not represent the views of the Foxes Trust organisation