LOAN defender Calum Macdonald keeps improving with every game, to the delight of Barrow AFC boss Ady Pennock.

Macdonald, 20, arrived from Derby County at the start of December, and has featured in all eight of Barrow’s games since then.

He has impressed with his efforts at full-back – usurping Tony Diagne and Paul Bignot from the starting line-up – and even scored the injury-time equaliser in the 3-3 draw at Wrexham on New Year’s Day.

Pennock has been pleased to see the youngster – whose loan from the Championship Rams was last week extended until the beginning of February – make such a positive impact.

“I think Calum has grown with every game,” said the Bluebirds manager. “When he first came, he has come from academy football, but he has just got better and better with every game he has played.

“We’re very pleased that we’ve got him, and with that goal on New Year’s Day as well, he was fantastic. He has done very well and I’m very pleased with him.”

Both Macdonald and Jimmy Dunne – who last week returned to parent club Burnley and was subsequently loaned out to League Two Accrington Stanley – have made good impressions at Holker Street this season.

They follow the mark made by Nottingham Forest midfielder Ryan Yates last season, showing that loan recruits can be a key part of the team.

Pennock knows that to be the case, and said he and player/coach Grant Holt – who revealed on social media on Monday that he was watching a game between Bolton Wanderers Under-23s and German side Magdeburg at the Macron Stadium – were looking to get the right men in again during January.

“This is why you’ve got to do your homework,” said Pennock. “Myself and Grant, we know a lot of people in the game, but you have to do your homework about their character, that’s very important.

“We’ve been unlucky with young Lewis (Walters, who has returned to Nottingham Forest with a hamstring issue) getting injured, but they have all shown fantastic character. There is a lot of homework to be done.”

Pennock also praised another of his departed loanees, Chris Clements, who has gone back to parent club Grimsby Town. Midfielder Clements joined the Bluebirds during Micky Moore’s short tenure in charge, making his debut in the 1-0 home defeat to Maidstone United on September.

He went on to make eight starts – three under Moore and three under caretaker boss Neill Hornby – but fell out of favour when Pennock arrived, making just two appearances under his management, in the 2-0 home defeat against Macclesfield Town and the 3-0 loss to Bromley.

While acknowledging that Clements did not fit in with his plans for the team – the Mariners man had not been included in a match-day squad since that Bromley reversal on November 25 – Pennock said the 27-year-old had never let up in his efforts.

“Clem was an excellent pro, a great pro,” said the Barrow boss. “He just wasn’t for me. He was a great lad. He didn’t down tools, he was great in training.”