The Bristol Rovers stars who could be in demand this January transfer window

Antony Evans of Bristol Rovers scores their team’s second goal from the penalty spot during the Emirates FA Cup First Round match between Oxford United and Bristol Rovers at Kassam Stadium on November 7.Antony Evans of Bristol Rovers scores their team’s second goal from the penalty spot during the Emirates FA Cup First Round match between Oxford United and Bristol Rovers at Kassam Stadium on November 7.
Antony Evans of Bristol Rovers scores their team’s second goal from the penalty spot during the Emirates FA Cup First Round match between Oxford United and Bristol Rovers at Kassam Stadium on November 7. | Getty Images
While Joey Barton would love to strengthen at the Mem, just keeping his best players may be a first port of call

The January transfer window can be a successful and frugal one if a football club are able to keep hold of their best players, especially for ambitious sides in the EFL.

With Bristol Rovers seven points away from both the drop zone and the playoffs, Rovers’ season could arguably yet go either way this campaign.

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While no doubt Joey Barton would love to strengthen at the Mem, just keeping his best players may be a first port of call.

The Gas have several young players who have contributed well so far in League Two and Rovers may have a tough January ahead with finances for any sides beyond the Premier League and without parachute payments an issue.

Here is who Barton and co must keep hold of next month, with clubs across the country looking to boost their 2021/22 campaigns.

Antony Evans

The 23-year-old attacking midfielder has played in 16 of Rovers’ 22 league games this season, grabbing a thoroughly healthy six assists and three goals to his name.

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What’s more the former SC Paderborn player is ranked as the Gas’ best-performing player by the respected WhoScored.com website currently, which uses Opta match data to analyse players’ performances the world over.

Evans’ 1.6 successful dribbles per 90 minutes is the highest in the squad, as is his 2.5 shot-creating passes per 90 minutes too, demonstrating his standout play down at the Mem.

Indeed, Evans clocks in as the joint 12th best player in the league currently, according to the website, and the second best midfielder, with Evans also featuring in their team of the best XI players for this season so far.

Antony Evans of Bristol Rovers scores their team’s second goal from the penalty spot during the Emirates FA Cup First Round match between Oxford United and Bristol Rovers at Kassam Stadium on November 7.Antony Evans of Bristol Rovers scores their team’s second goal from the penalty spot during the Emirates FA Cup First Round match between Oxford United and Bristol Rovers at Kassam Stadium on November 7.
Antony Evans of Bristol Rovers scores their team’s second goal from the penalty spot during the Emirates FA Cup First Round match between Oxford United and Bristol Rovers at Kassam Stadium on November 7. | Getty Images

Luca Hoole

While some Gasheads may instead mention Sam Finley or Alfie Kilgour, we’ve named Wales U19 international Luca Hoole, who has come through the Rovers academy.

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As a homegrown player it’s all the more important to keep those players who are likely to have that bit more pride in the quarters and who will identify with the fans and club seniors.

Hoole has played just 432 minutes in the fourth tier so far this season, but good displays such as a standout game against Carlisle United back in October, demonstrate the potential there.

A player that Rovers should build around over the seasons ahead and let the 19-year-old midfielder develop as Barton’s side drives forward too.

Luca Hoole of Bristol Rovers runs with the ball during the Emirates FA Cup First Round match between Oxford United and Bristol Rovers at Kassam Stadium on November 7.Luca Hoole of Bristol Rovers runs with the ball during the Emirates FA Cup First Round match between Oxford United and Bristol Rovers at Kassam Stadium on November 7.
Luca Hoole of Bristol Rovers runs with the ball during the Emirates FA Cup First Round match between Oxford United and Bristol Rovers at Kassam Stadium on November 7. | Getty Images

Connor Taylor

The on-loan Stoke City man is on his third loan of his career and has impressed for Barton’s team, playing 17 games and appearing once from the bench in League Two so far.

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Though the Potters may not recall him there may yet be other sides who take notice of his good displays at the heart of the Gas defence, with his equalising goal against Walsall no doubt a highlight of his campaign.

His manager was delighted to bring in the former England Schoolboys player, and explained back in June on the club website that Taylor is someone who has been kept tabs on for some time.

“He’s a very good young player, one we have tracked for a while now, and I know that he is excited to make the natural next step into senior football.”

Connor Taylor of Bristol Rovers runs off the ball during the Emirates FA Cup First Round match between Oxford United and Bristol Rovers at Kassam Stadium on November 7. Connor Taylor of Bristol Rovers runs off the ball during the Emirates FA Cup First Round match between Oxford United and Bristol Rovers at Kassam Stadium on November 7.
Connor Taylor of Bristol Rovers runs off the ball during the Emirates FA Cup First Round match between Oxford United and Bristol Rovers at Kassam Stadium on November 7. | Getty Images

Can Rovers keep the 20-year-old defender this campaign and perhaps even longer?

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Potters boss Michael O’Neill has hinted at a recall this month, with injuries at Stoke City, saying: “Ideally if you are bringing them back, you’re bringing them back because they will affect the team and get minutes.

“We have to weigh that up against their development and leaving them where they are at this minute as well.”

Heart in mouth time?

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