Nigel Pearson has confirmed that he visited the Oxford United vs MK Dons game last week to watch potential transfer targets.
As revealed by BristolWorld this week, the Robins manager watched the two League One teams with the U’s winning 1-0, keeping an eye on three players. “Two decent sides with a number of players who may or may not be able to make the step up,” admitted Pearson at his pre-Hull City press conference on Thursday..
And we can reveal that another player the club were specifically watching on that night was right-sided winger or wing-back Mark Sykes.
The 24-year-old has enjoyed a good season down the right flank for Karl Robinson’s team, scoring eight goals and setting up five in 40 League appearances in 2021/22.
He has 11 caps for Northern Ireland U21s but recently switched international allegiances to the Republic of Ireland and was called up by Stephen Kenny for last month’s matches against Belgium and Lithuania, although he remained an unused substitute.
Sykes is out of contract in June and available on a free transfer, which will appeal to the Robins.
Pearson has already explained that little money will be spent in the summer, with the club careful to abide by EFL financial regulations having made a large loss in their last accounts.
There is Championship interest in the Oxford United player, who is keen to play at a higher level, and the Robins will have to see off other second-tier outfits if they are to bring in the wide player who could play wide in a four at the back formation or as the right wing-back if playing a three-man defence.
Pearson played down watching centre-back Elliott Moore on Thursday but stopped short of ruling out an interest in the Oxford United defender, when discussing his scouting trip at this week’s press conference.
Although the former Leicester City manager said he was not watching Moore, before that he asked why he would need to watch a player he has managed twice before, at the Foxes and OH Leuven.
Regardless, what happens with Nathan Baker this summer may determine whether another central defender arrives at Ashton Gate in the coming months.
The Robins are set to hand a permanent deal to young centre-back Duncan Idehen next month, and BristolWorld understands that Robbie Cundy is edging closer to earning a new contract too, having impressed Pearson of late.
The former Bath City player has made eight starts and a further four from the bench and is set to get more first-team action in the final two games as Pearson and Curtis Fleming scrutinise the former Gloucester City player.
A decision must be made on Timm Klose too, who has impressed since arriving last January.
No doubt what happens regarding outgoings this summer may have a bearing on the club’s incoming, although the club is expecting a quiet summer on the recruitment front generally.
And to that end, Championship interest is growing in Bristol City midfielder Kasey Palmer.
The Robins were unable to strike a deal with any of Palmer’s suitors last January but may get another chance this coming window. Palmer has one year left on his contract.