Reality of the January window compared to the summer as Bristol Rovers not expected to do much

Bristol Rovers are heading into the January transfer window in a lowly position but fans might need to lower their expectations
Keep or sell? Sam Nicholson is out of contract in the summer. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)Keep or sell? Sam Nicholson is out of contract in the summer. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)
Keep or sell? Sam Nicholson is out of contract in the summer. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)

Now Christmas Day has passed, the one date that the fans of Bristol Rovers are looking forward to is January 1, the opening of the January transfer window.

The Gas have a game to play against Crawley on the 29th but their Boxing Day match with Sutton United was called off.

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At the time of writing, the club is currently 17th in League Two, performing below the pre-season expectations of promotion.

They are seven points off of the playoffs and ten off the final automatic spot, so there is work to be done.

As is the nature of football management, this will be Joey Barton’s second transfer window after being appointed in February.

In his first window, he recruited no fewer than 17 players after a major clearout following relegation from League One.

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Some players such as Antony Evans have adapted well to life at the Memorial Stadium, the makeshift striker has the most assists for the club this season and has four goals.

Meanwhile there has been a raft of injuries to contend with for some players where the writing may already be on the wall for them. Both Junior Brown and Mark Hughes, signed from Scunthorpe United and Accrington Stanley have barely played, making just 12 league appearances between them.

Hughes has already been linked with a move away from the club despite his lack of game time with Plymouth Argyle circling.

You also have experienced striker Leon Clarke, who has played just two games, in the treatment room for a hamstring injury.

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Given there are so many players to return, the harsh reality of this transfer window is that there may not be much move to manoeuvre

Already a strong recruitment drive happened in the summer and given a lot were free transfers, it’s unlikely that there will be many coming through the door in the next month.

Most of those signed have been given one-year deals with 13 players out of contract in the summer, so ultimately the approach to this season is to get promoted and then extend the contracts for those who perform well.

At best, there may be a few players available on loan at clubs in the higher divisions who are in need of some first-team football.

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Connor Taylor on loan from Stoke City has so far has performed well and is a player that many fans have been impressed by. Other loanee Sion Spence meanwhile has shown moments but still has yet to really make his mark in the team.

The January window can see players on loan return to their parent club and then sent elsewhere as loan managers earn their worth. This is the best hope in regards to any major deals taking place. You could either have a high-earner needing to be offloaded to make some movement or a young player looking for their first chance in football.

This is the reality of the window for Rovers as it is likely no fees will be exchanged. There could of course be some gems hiding in the lower leagues and that may force the club to part with some money but there would need to be some due diligence in the financial risk involved.

Ultimately though, don’t expect the club to look in their division and start making bids for some of the best performing players in the division.

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There are also departures that need to be considered. If you look at the likes of Evans and Sam Nicholson who are performing well, it could be an option to sell them to recoup some money given their contracts are out at the end of the season.

They’ve become important players to the team though and if they were to be sold then there would be an obvious desire to replace them but given the time frame and the difficulty that comes with doing business in January, it’s not worthwhile. The likelihood is that they will both be kept at the club and then there will be a hope that performances can improve to shoot the club up the table and start looking like a promotion chasing team.

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