Chelsea loan star Patrick Bamford a hit at MK Dons and Derby

First impressions are said to last.

Derby County's latest loan signing Patrick Bamford certainly made a fine first impression with Rams fans last Saturday, scoring the winner against Brighton in only his second substitute appearance.

But it seems the 20-year-old Chelsea striker is just as adept at stylish exits.

Bamford's three goals in five games during December while on loan with MK Dons led to him winning the Football League's Young Player of the Month award.

Loan stars

Around 600 players go on loan to Football League clubs every season. Between 40% and 50% of these are players registered with Premier League clubs.

There are currently 169 players on loan at Football League clubs. There are 57 in the Championship, 60 in League One and 52 in League Two.

A total of 99 players (out of the 169) are aged 21 or under and 77 have been loaned out by Premier League clubs.

It is thought that around 250 players aged 21 or under will have made their debuts in the Football League by the end of the season. So far, 125 players have made their debuts.

Statistics correct as of Wednesday, 22 January

And, before he set off on the next stage of his development by joining former England manager Steve McClaren at the iPro Stadium, he managed a parting gift of goal number 21 in a total of 44 games with the Dons to keep their FA Cup hopes alive.

The wandering Blues star could hardly have done any better while with the League One promotion hopefuls.

However, not everything has quite gone to plan. His second week and first training session after joining Chelsea from Nottingham Forest with the Stamford Bridge superstars saw him make a lasting first impression by falling on his backside.

"I was a little bit nervous and as we were warming up it was quite frosty and I slipped over. It was the first thing I did, so I was even more nervous," Bamford told BBC Sport.

Bamford, who joined the Londoners from Forest for a fee of around £1.5m in January 2012, barely had time to unpack before linking up with the Dons.

But he wouldn't change a thing. He is in no doubt the loan system has worked a treat for him and is a huge benefit to young players.

"It's is about getting experience and developing. The best way to do that is to go out on loan to play first-team football," Bamford said.

"It's a lot more physical playing with men and I have had to develop a fair bit physically - and mentally - but you can only do that by getting involved in it and experiencing it first hand.

Patrick Bamford

Even though it is a team game and you are always striving to do your best for the team, to get personal awards is really nice.

Patrick Bamford Football League Young Player of the Month for December

"The training is good but there is only so much you can learn and you then have to implement it in a game.

"You can develop a lot playing with Fernando Torres, Samuel Eto'o, Frank Lampard, Oscar, and the others, but you still need to be playing games. As a young guy that is the most important.

"It's all about development so I am ready to play in Chelsea's first team - that's the main aim."

And, on the road to the Chelsea first team, Bamford's season so far could not have gone much better.

His three goals in December helped the Dons to four wins from five games, and the strike in the 3-3 FA Cup draw with Wigan was his 17th in 30 appearances this term.

Bamford has not played a first-team game for Chelsea yet, but believes his loan moves give him the best chance of making the breakthrough at his parent club.

It was tough to tell Dons boss Karl Robinson he was leaving, he says - but Chelsea wanted him to be tested at Championship level.

"Sometimes you have to take the opportunity when it comes because it might not come again," the Grantham-born forward said. "That's what my thoughts were when I went to Chelsea.

"I felt I had to be loyal to Karl and the club and I was a bit reluctant to leave but I knew for my own career and development I had to push on. He didn't really want me to go but obviously he accepted it. He wished me all the best and I am still in touch with him now."

Joining Derby - and linking up with McClaren who he had briefly worked with Bamford at Nottingham Forest - was a simple decision in some respects, even though his family are all Forest fans and the two clubs are fierce rivals.

"I saw how Derby were playing and that was a big plus for me," Bamford added.

"You could see they were on the up and the style of football they were playing.

Patrick Bamford

Born in Grantham, Lincolnshire but grew up in Nottinghamshire and joined Nottingham Forest's academy at the age of eight.

Bamford played just 12 minutes of first-team football before joining Chelsea for around £1.5m in January 2012.

Made his debut for the England Under-18s side in November 2010 and had previously represented the Republic of Ireland at U-18 level.

Has yet to play for Chelsea's first team but has scored 21 goals in a total of 44 appearances during two loan spells with MK Dons. He scored 17 goals in 30 games for the League One side in the first half of this season, including three goals in five games in December.

Bamford joined Derby County on loan in January on a deal until the end of the season. He has appeared as a substitute twice so far, scoring in the 1-0 victory over Brighton on Saturday.

"Chelsea were big fans and knew how Steve worked. Michael Emenalo [Chelsea sporting director] knew Steve from his time at FC Twente and said he was a great coach and I would develop and come on leaps and bounds.

"It was a big factor that I had briefly worked with him before and knew what he was about.

"Because I was going to be stepping up to the Championship there was no other place to go really and, although I had choices, it was Steve I wanted to work with.

"There was the playing style, working with Steve again - and the fact it was quite close to home was a bonus as well."

Head coach McClaren is a big admirer of the loan system. As well as Bamford, McClaren has brought in Simon Dawkins from Tottenham, Andre Wisdom from Liverpool and Manchester United's Michael Keane.

"I certainly say, even without my Derby County hat on, that it is the way forward for top clubs to give their players the opportunity to play," McClaren explained. "And we believe we are one of those clubs that can provide a good development education.

"It's vital because the realities of getting a result every week, and the pressure of that and playing in the league when it does matter, is a lot different than the development league.

"We just felt that for what we needed and what we wanted, there were young players out there and we would rather go with younger players than experienced ones.

"Sometimes the finance also helps but we have gone for the younger talented market that needs to be developed. We believe it is something that is beneficial for us, and the other clubs as well.

England expects?

Nathaniel Chalobah

There are 10 players on loan from Premier League clubs to Football League clubs that were included in the last round of England 'age-group' sides.

Chuba Akpom [Arsenal-Brentford] - U-19s.

Christopher Long [Everton-MK Dons], John Lundstram [Everton-Yeovil], Luke Garbutt [Everton-Colchester], Conor Coady [Liverpool-Sheff Utd], Alex Pritchard [Tottenham-Swindon] - U-20s.

Nat Chalobah [Chelsea-Middlesbrough], Patrick Bamford [Chelsea-MK Dons], Jack Robinson [Liverpool-Blackpool], Michael Keane [Man Utd-Derby] - U-21s

Of the 25 players included in the last England squad (Germany and Chile matches), 15 had spent time on loan at a Football League club whilst registered at a Premier League club.

"We wanted the top kids. I watched Chelsea's development team - the 17 and 18-year-olds - and they have some fantastic players, playing the kind of football we want to play here.

"That is a key thing, young players are developing in to that whole approach to football and we can provide that.

"We try to reassure but you can't always say the players will play. It's up to the players to perform. But we try to pick the ones that will make a difference to our team and we let the club know they are in good hands and we will be part of their development."

McClaren has little doubt Bamford has all the talent he needs to be a success

"Seventeen goals in 30 games [for MK Dons this season] speaks for itself," McClaren said. "If he can replicate that at Derby it will be fantastic. If he just brings his goals we will be highly delighted. But he brings quality, and he has a great attitude, too."

And though the Championship is the current focus after proving himself in League One, Bamford is still thinking ahead to England's top tier.

"Hopefully I can go back at the start of next season and do a pre-season tour, do well and catch the eye of Jose Mourinho," he said.

"But I would imagine I would be out on loan for another season - maybe in the Premier League with Derby."