Six unattached wingers Bristol Rovers could sign as Joey Barton considers free agent market

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There are a number of players available to Bristol Rovers and Joey Barton in the free agent market

The summer transfer window slammed shut last Thursday night but Bristol Rovers and their league rivals are still able to move around the market.

Attention now turns to the players who weren’t picked up by clubs after their contracts expire towards the end of June. A majority of the free agents will have had to have undergone their own personal training regimes to keep themselves fit.

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Match fitness is hard to replicate and so for any players not contracted to a club, there shouldn’t be an expectance to hit the ground running.

Pre-season is a time for players to settle in at their clubs but the manic rush of deadline day means clubs have to fit new players into a system that has been worked on from day one of the 2022/23 season.

For the Gas, they signed three players; Sylvester Jasper from Fulham, Josh Coburn from Middlesbrough, and Bobby Thomas of Burnley.

Thomas has already made a big impact by scoring the equalising goal against Morecambe last Saturday, whilst Jasper also made his league debut. Fans will have to wait for Josh Coburn to recover from a knee injury before he makes his debut in the blue and white quarters.

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After the 2-2 draw with Morecambe, the free agent market was something that Joey Barton admitted he was considering but that a defensive reinforcement wouldn’t be what he would recruit in.

A new winger is an obvious priority having only signed Jasper in that role with Elliot Anderson, Luke Thomas, and Sam Nicholson still yet to be fully replaced.

Top scorer and top creator Aaron Collins has been played as a left-sided winger to accomodate John Marquis and the recent form of Ryan Loft, but another attacking player would certainly provide competition in that area.

Rovers are permitted to sign one free agent before the winter transfer window opens up in January and so they must be careful in who they choose.

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Below we assess players available in the free agent market and whether a move to the Mem is realistic or not.

Anthony Pilkington

Pilkington is yet to sign with a new club after being released by Barton’s former club. The 34-year-old got four goals and two assists in 26 games for the Cod Army last season and is able to play as a winger and a striker.

A vast amount of EFL experience with Huddersfield Town, Norwich City and Cardiff City, he’s a realistic option but may have to face a long commute.

Bakary Sako

Mali international Sako has played for three English clubs; Wolverhampton Wanderers, West Bromwich Albion and Crystal Palace with two spells at Selhurst Park. Sako was a terrific player in the Championship for Wolves and frightened defenders.

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He had a short-term deal at French club Saint-Etienne last season but left following their relegation from League One. Sako was limited to eight games and at 34-years-old, he may be out of the clubs price range.

Callum McManaman

McManaman was a shock signing for League Two outfit Tranmere Rovers last season after returning from a spell in Australia.

The 31-year-old didn’t light up the fourth tier and got two goals and an assist in 29 games for a side that missed out on the play-off positions.

Admittedly it would be at a higher level, but playing under Joey Barton could give him a new lease of life.

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From Huyton, McManaman could join the Scouse contingent at Rovers.

Joe Dodoo

Former Rangers winger Joe Dodoo is yet to find a new club after suffering relegation with Doncaster Rovers.

The 27-year-old played 37 times and got eight goals and an assist for the relegated Yokshire side.

Dodoo will have crossed paths with Barton during their time at Ibrox in 2016.  There is a player with an obvious talent in there and Barton could be the man to unlock it.

Sammy Ameobi

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Former Newcastle United man Sammy Ameobi was not kept on by Middlesbrough this summer.

He missed the entirety of the campaign with injury after Neil Warnock signed him on a free transfer. A knee injury had him sidelined for the whole of the campaign, which is something to be wary of.

A short-term contract until January could be the best option for both parties.

Scott Sinclair

Sinclair had a more than successful spell at Celtic, winning eight titles in total.

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The 33-year-old is without a club after being released by Preston North End after two seasons.

Sinclair failed to register a goal or an assist for the Lilywhites last year but he still holds some talent.

Rovers was Sinclair’s first club and finishing his career in the West Country would be a nice touch. Born in Somerset, he was a part of the academy and made two appearances before Chelsea snapped him up. Seventeen years after his departure from the West Country, a return would be welcomed by most.

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