When a young player goes out on loan, you have to be realistic in your expectations.
Nobody can expect an untested talent to turn up in the lower reaches of the footballing pyramid and suddenly turn into a world beater overnight.
What you can hope for, however, is that a starlet can go out into the gritty world of the lower leagues, work hard, learn some lessons, and come back ready to dip their toe into the rigours of the Premier League.
That’s why West Ham will be delighted with progress made by Josh Cullen this season.
The midfielder was sent out the Charlton Athletic last summer in the hope that regular football and a bit of real world experience could turn him into a player capable of knocking on the door for Manuel Pellegrini’s men when he came back.
And judging by the latest comments from Charlton boss Lee Bowyer, that is exactly what has happened.
Speaking to the club’s official website, he said: “The loanees that came, they were all outstanding, every single one of them.
“Josh Cullen, Krystian Bielik, Ben Purrington, they’ve all gone back better players than when they arrived, I think that is clear to see.
“Josh Cullen became a full international, which is a great achievement for a young lad, so I think West Ham will be happy.”
You would have to say that he is right.
Cullen has looked like a really bright spark for the Addicks this term.
Two goals and seven assists, the most important of which came in the final minute of the League One play-off final against Sunderland, tell only half the story.
The reality is that the 23-year-old has looked like an accomplished and reliable option throughout a promotion campaign that was no walk in the park for Charlton.
But Cullen has handled that pressure brilliantly.
He is at an age now where it is either the first team or the exit in east London, but if his performances at the Valley are anything to go by, he is ready for his chance with the Hammers.