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Loans Cut Short: 2 Young Defenders Head Back to Parent Clubs

Defenders Lars Dendoncker and Reece Devine have had their loan spells at St. Johnstone cut short, heading back down South to parent clubs Bright & Hove Albion and Manchester United.

[Dendoncker and Devine have both played their last games for Saints]

This begins a much-needed process of weeding out the squad and bringing in fresh faces, with Callum Davidson aiming to revamp the squad. To do this, reducing the loan count was a must.

The pair only amassed 17 appearances for Saints after joining in the summer and despite some pretty high expectations, failed to make a proper impact.

Both players are talented and should have decent futures in the game. Devine has been on the books of Manchester City and now rivals Manchester United whilst Dendoncker has played for Belgium at youth level.

[Dendoncker clearing the ball]

The issue was never talent but a lack of experience which blighted both players. Neither had played a game of senior football prior to joining the club and in a relegation scrap, experience is necessary.

Davidson has often gone with the tried and tested which has seen limited minutes for both; Booth has been preferred at Left Wing Back, whereas Brown, Ambrose, and Muller all managed more games than Dendoncker.

Following the signing of Dan Cleary it made sense to send Dendoncker back to Brighton with his already limited opportunity for game time shrinking even more. He looked an okay player but struggled to really fit into the 5 at the back system which Saints play.

In the case of Reece Devine it is a bit different, he played a majority of his 10 games for St. Johnstone at the start of the season, looking an energetic and exciting threat down the left-hand side whilst not looking too bad defensively (bar his error against Galatasaray).

[Devine in action for Saints]

I am surprised that we did not see more of him, his attacking runs and pace make him a much more attacking option when playing the 5-3-2, especially when struggling for goals. Even in his final game for the club - a surprise start away at Ibrox - he looked like one of St. Johnstone's best players and was one of few trying to create.

It is a shame that he was never able to fulfill his potential in Perth, he was not a bad player but the lack of game time will have been a concern and it is understandable that he was recalled. Saints now need to bring in a quality replacement to challenge Booth.

I would like to thank both for their efforts and wish them the best for the rest of their careers, it may not have worked out but that was through no lack of trying and they are both talented footballers.

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