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Ashley Fletcher to Red Bulls confirmed; striker joins on six month loan

Manchester United academy product had seen attempt to break into Premier League stalled

Leicester City v Watford: The Emirates FA Cup Third Round
Ashley Fletcher is joining the New York Red Bulls on loan from Watford.
Photo by James Williamson - AMA/Getty Images

Last week’s front office upheaval doesn’t seem to have stopped the New York Red Bulls from making signings.

After being reported last week, English forward Ashley Fletcher’s loan to New York from Watford of the Premier League was made official on Monday. Fletcher joins on what is described as a “six-month loan” with an option to purchase. A club spokesperson indicated to OaM that the six-month loan period will finish in July.

As broken down by OaM last week, Fletcher is a product of the Manchester United academy who has had an up and down career on the English professional scene since leaving the Northern giants. After a brief goalless stint in the Premiership with West Ham, Fletcher had a successful four-year run with second division side Middlesbrough, scoring 28 goals in 108 appearances. Fletcher’s second attempt to break into the Premiership this season with Watford has been unsuccessful, with only three league appearances made. Former England national team manager Roy Hodgson, who took over at the relegation-threatened club last month, has deemed Fletcher surplus to requirements, leaving an opening that New York has duly exploited.

In New York, Fletcher (who appears somewhat taller than his listed height of 6’1”) seems to line up as a like-for-like replacement for departed Brazilian striker Fábio Gomes. Red Bulls head coach Gerhard Struber remarked about Fletcher’s skillset at length in the club’s press release.

“His general movement off the ball suggests he has a good level of game understanding,” said the Austrian manager. “(This) is shown by recognizing and exploiting space with precise timing. He will hopefully prove to be a good piece in the attacking zone.”

The front office end of the press release quotes were handled by sporting director Denis Hamlett, confirming that the longtime club operative has re-assumed control of the club’s first team recruitment and is already active. With Struber having hinted following the team’s season-opening 3-1 over San Jose that not one but two signings should be wrapped up in the season’s opening weeks, business appears to be continuing as usual in Harrison.