Player that Bristol Rovers let go for free last summer now attracting interest from the Championship

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He left Bristol Rovers in the summer after an injury-barren spell but has been ever present for his new club

Northampton full-back Ali Koiki is reportedly attracting the attention of two League One clubs and one Championship outfit.

Koiki, signed by then manager Ben Garner on a free transfer from Burnley in October 2020 after he rejected the Premier League side’s offer of a new contract, but as he had come through the Clarets’ academy, they were owed compensation.

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He made 13 appearances for the Gas last season, but only three of those were starts and an injury brought a premature end to his career at the Memorial Stadium. As was the nature of last season, he never played in front of the fans but made a return to the ground earlier this season in his sides defeat.

The 22-year-old was one of many players released by Bristol Rovers last summer after their relegation to League Two, with Nick Anderton and Trevor Clarke brought in as his replacements.

Now Rovers may come to regret letting him leave, he could find himself back in the same division or even higher.

Ali Koiki spent less than a season at Bristol Rovers. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)Ali Koiki spent less than a season at Bristol Rovers. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)
Ali Koiki spent less than a season at Bristol Rovers. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

A report from Football Insider says that both Sheffield Wednesday and Sunderland are both ready to make a move for the 22-year-old.

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Preston North End, who were recently taken over by Plymouth Argyle manager Ryan Lowe are also said to be interested.

Koiki’s contract with the Cobblers runs out at the end of the season and having left both his last teams on a free transfer, they may want to recoup a fee.

The report adds that they are keen to keep him at Sixfields but anticipate that offers could come at the later stage of the January transfer window.

He has been ever present for Jon Brady’s side this season, helping them to the third and final automatic promotion spot at the halfway stage of the campaign.

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Given his struggles at Rovers to stay injury free, this season has been the most appearances he’s made for a team in senior level football.

The two suitors from League One, Wednesday and Sunderland are both pushing for promotion to the Championship. The Black Cats are managed by former Bristol City boss Lee Johnson, whilst Wednesday are in eighth and are coached by Darren Moore.

Preston North End meanwhile are sitting below mid-table in the Championship above City and their aim will be to preserve their second tier status.

Koiki’s experience has mainly come in League Two as he had a loan spell at Swindon Town whilst he was contracted to Burnley, so it would come as a big step up should any three of the clubs substantiate their reported interest.

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Other players who left Rovers for pastures new and have sought opportunities in a higher division include Max Ehmer, David Tutonda, George Williams and Luke Leahy, who are all playing in the third tier.

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