It’s safe to say that hopes were high when Sheffield United shelled out £15m on the Derby County duo of Jayden Bogle and Max Lowe last year.
Both were seen as young, exciting full-backs who suited the 3-5-2 system of then manager, Chris Wilder. Indeed, at the time, Wilder lauded the additions, insisting it was great business for the club.
“Jayden and Max will put huge pressure on George (Baldock) and Enda (Stevens). It was important we got the right characters, the right type of players, ones who are athletic and technically very good.
“Both are modern-day wing-backs and I’m looking forward to working with them,” Wilder told Sky Sports at the time.
But since then, while we’ve seen Bogle leave a big impression on the first-team, 24-year-old Lowe has dipped away from the picture.
Despite a positive start to his Blades career where he nabbed an assist against Burnley, Lowe has never quite managed to push Enda Stevens like Chris Wilder might have hoped.
Lowe made the matchday squad 33 times last season. But worryingly for him, he featured just eight times, with seven appearances from the start.
And while Lowe might have known he needed patience to usurp Stevens at left wing-back, it will concern him that Ben Osborn started this weekend’s Championship opener against Birmingham. More so, Lowe didn’t even make the matchday squad.
Another concern for Lowe will be the return of Rhys Norrington-Davies, who is fresh from an impressive loan at Stoke and a Euro 2020 campaign with Wales. He is said to be pushing Stevens hard, and Slavisa Jokanovic could give him a chance when he’s back fully-fit.
Osborn and Norrington-Davies being ahead of him, coupled with Wilder’s decision to play Bogle at left-back at times last term, should send a worrying message to Lowe.
Loan move welcome?
Lowe does, of course, have time on his side. He’s still just 24, and signed a four-year contract at United. There is, then, no immediate rush for him to shift Stevens from first-choice.
But, there is a need for him to play football. Especially if, as has been indicated, he’s going to be behind three other players – possibly four in Bogle – for the left-back slot.
Lowe and Sheffield United might well be best suited finding a temporary switch for the 24-year-old. A return to his old club Derby might not be a bad shout, given their need for players. He knows the club well, and would certainly get games under Wayne Rooney.
It’s a big season for Max Lowe you feel. And one he can’t afford to waste, whether that be in Sheffield, or elsewhere.
The player, and Slavisa Jokanovic, have a big call to make.