In our occasional series, the Foxes Trust links up with fellow fans for clubs 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 Gary Fairclough on Darnell Johnson’s progress to date in League One at Wigan
“It is entirely likely that Darnell Johnson didn’t quite know what he was letting himself in for when he signed on loan for Wigan. Indeed at the time his arrival he joined a husk of a club, a squad gutted by the vultures that continue to circle what remains of Wigan Athletic. Around him were the flotsam of North West Football League clubs, the few players from last season that nobody wanted and what remained of our academy players after the Premier League big boys had taken their pick. The team, if you could call it that, was as unsettled and uncertain as the clubs off-field future.
He replaced another ex-Fox, Cedric Kipre, who had left at the start of September and was expected to provide experienced support for the makeshift defence that had been thrown together. The fact that he only had one senior career appearance to his name speaks volumes as to the situation he was joining.
An impressive debut in the win at home to Doncaster was followed by solid, if unrewarded performances against top half sides before injury at the end of October saw him side-lined until the festive period. In his absence we had a morale sapping run of 1 win from 8, including cup humiliation against historic local rivals Chorley. Since his return form has improved, only one defeat and two valuable wins have come from the 5 games played. That upturn in form may be more to do with the installation of competent management following the departure of the master of incompetence John Sheridan to Swindon, but Johnson has had a part to play too.
Johnson’s performances have been mixed; too often his positioning and aerial defence have been lacking and have allowed the opposition an easy opportunity to score. His ability on the ball, however, has impressed me – exuding a calmness bringing the ball out from defence that we sorely missed during his lay off. He is unfortunate that the inherent weaknesses around him have given no hiding places for the shortcomings in his own game. I have to remind myself that, despite thinking of him as the more experienced player, he still has less than a dozen career appearances to his name. Only now is he getting a solid partner in defence with whom to build a rapport, performances are improving slowly but there is a long way to go.
With his loan deal due to end in January and our ownership situation still up in the air it remains to be seen whether he will get a chance to develop further here. To date he has been given a harsh introduction to football in the depths of league one, from the terrible managers to the bullying forwards via comically bad referees – all lessons that will likely serve him well going forward. Despite that I would not be averse to him staying on for the season if it was possible; he has shown enough promise to suggest he could be a real asset with stronger players around him.”
The views expressed in this report are the opinions of the author only and do not represent the views of the Foxes Trust organisation