From a Seal to a Bull

Simon Wright ponders on Callum Miles Rowe, the Bulls new loanee, who has joined Hereford on a season deal from Aston Villa.

Josh is gaining a versatile young player. Callum’s previously played in both left midfield and centre midfield in addition to his preferred left back spot. FIFA21 lists him as a central midfielder though offers some unflattering ratings in that position. Our connection to the Villa is presumably via one of the two Hereford old boys who are now managing the B6 club. We can also safely assume that the financial arrangements around salary are highly advantageous for Hereford just couldn’t entertain the signing.

The headlines major on the Leicester-born defenders encouraging performance against Liverpool in the FA Cup, where in between marking Mo Salah, he provided an assist for villa’s goal. “Great showing by the kids, our future looks bright”. Blah blah. Football doesn’t quite work like that. Villa had the choice of moving the fixture but chose not to. Reading between the lines they wanted out of the FA Cup and a team of youngsters was the way to ensure that. Callum Rowe’s other first team experience to date is limited to three Football League Trophy games. His team lost all four games, mainly heavily.

Behind these highlights will be a concern that at 21, Callum needs much more on his cv. In short, he needs men’s football and quickly. Twenty-one is quite a late age to not be seriously pushing as a first team player especially at a club with the lowest first team average age in the Premier League. And truthfully a club with a big cheque book content to buy in more talent. Villa’s Captain played 45 top-flight games before he was 21. Dara O’Shea is just a few months older than Callum but has played around 100 first team games, split between four different levels, not to mention being a full international. Kelsey Mooney is also 21 and he was released from Villa Park two years ago.

With Callum’s Edgar Street loan running to the end of the season (whenever that might be), there will be few if any chances to wear a claret and blue shirt before his 22nd birthday in early September. He has to impress in the Shire and impress consistently, otherwise in the brutal fierce world of top-fight football, he may not get another contract.  According to FIFA21, his existing contract expires this summer and as one-year contracts for hopefuls are commonplace, that does sound realistic. As the villa website explains “Callum Rowe has been a part of the club’s Under-23 squad since the 2016/17 season.”  That’s too long. In fairness a serious knee injury cost him 11 months of action, returning only in mid-October 2020, so his parent club will have made allowances for this setback.  He’s played very little football this season and the FA Cup game was his only competitive match in the last month.

But if Callum succeeds, so do Hereford. Welcome Callum.

By Simon Wright

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