Bristol Rovers gave fans some early January cheer as they announced their first signing of the transfer window, Ryan Loft from Scunthorpe United.
They have recruited in a position in which was a priority for them given the lack of available options right now.
As with any signing, there is always a thought process in how they will be accommodated into the team.
At times, the signing fits in like a piece in a jigsaw puzzle meanwhile on other occasions, the team has to be rejigged to accommodate their game.
Where could he play?
To put it bluntly, he’s an out and out number nine he even wore the shirt number at his former club. He has the physical stature to show for it, standing at six foot and three inches, so don’t expect him to play anywhere else.
Playing up front is probably one of the most difficult positions to play as you are constantly under scrutiny to deliver.
He’ll be in competition with a number of strikers for a starting berth, but will have a direct battle with the likes of Brett Pitman and Leon Clarke.
Both are experienced in the Football League but haven’t had the desired impact due to injury.
Pitman has four goals and has since recovered but hasn’t been able to nail down a starting spot. Clarke meanwhile is still in the treatment room for a hamstring injury.
Could there be a change in formation?
We’ve seen a few formations played over the course of the season but an ever growing trend in football is playing with three centre-backs.
It can sometimes be viewed as a negative as you could revert to a flat back five which means less defensive options. It can also be turned the other way in that the full-backs can become wing-backs and
In Rovers’ last match they played a 3-4-1-2 formation against Rochdale with Aaron Collins and Sam Nicholson up front with Antony Evans just behind them in the number ten role.
The addition of Ryan Loft could either be a help or a hindrance to Collins, who was building up some form before the raft of postponements.
Some say Collins isn’t an out and out striker and perhaps should play in Evans’ role but you’d struggle to find someone who would say he deserves to be dropped.
It’s why the best suggestion is trying Collins and Loft together could make for a successful striker partnership.
Last season for Forest Green Rovers, he reached double figures as they reached the play-off semi finals. He played in a few roles similar to what he has done at the Mem but he partnered Jamille Matt, who has had a knack for goal scoring.
Loft still has some work to do if he wants to reach the levels of Matt, who is vastly experienced in this division, but if he can have a striker alongside him then there’s potential for it to be a success.
In yesteryears we’ve always liked seeing the big man and small man partnership where the tall striker flicks on a header for the shorter striker to chase and we could get that again.
Collins could also influence Loft’s games as on a number of occasions he’s drifted out wide or played behind the striker so is fully aware of the service a striker needs.
The slight change from the line-up against Rochdale then would be to put Sam Nicholson in as that right wing-back which Harry Anderson was playing in. Harsh as Anderson did find the target in that match but Nicholson does possess an obvious talent.
You still have to consider the return of Sam Finley after his suspension is up, whilst there is also a thinking point on where Josh Grant will be accomodated once he returns from injury.
Where did Ryan Loft play for Scunthorpe United and how did they line up?
Obviously different clubs suit different formations as their squads are different but struggling Scunny persisted with an attacking front two over the course of this season.
At times they would play with a front two where Loft would partner up with Aaron Jarvis or Harry Bunn.
They played mainly with a flat back four, alternating between a 4-4-2 and a 4-1-3-2.
Last season, he built up a partnership with Kevin van Veen who has since moved to Motherwell. As with the theme of his career in League Two, it would be best suited to partner him with a striker rather than deploying him as the only central attacking option.