Keep moving players on - What to expect from Bristol Rovers in the last week of the January transfer window

We are less than a week away from deadline day as the January transfer window slams shut on Monday evening.
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Bristol Rovers have had a fairly satisfactory month in terms of incoming, bringing in Ryan Loft from Scunthorpe United on a two-year deal and James Connolly on a season-long loan from Cardiff City.

There have also been some departures with Zain Walker and Zain Westbrooke departing for pastures new with King’s Lynn and Stevenage respectively.

Loans have also been sought for young players like Jed Ward and Jamie Egan, who are playing at Swindon Supermarine and Hereford on one month loans, though they can be extended, as well as recalled.

With two signings made, the priority has shifted to getting players who aren’t in the first-team picture off the books.

Joey Barton said last week that he would be undergoing discussions with Junior Brown about his future at the club with a departure likely.

No offers had been put on the table to him from other clubs at the time of Barton’s comments. The Gas manager may have been speaking about Brown publicly to make clubs aware of his availability.

Should he depart then we could see any kind of money reinvested back into the squad with his wages either going on a potential contract renewal or a potential loan player.

When Walker and Westbrooke left, Barton said: “For us, it’s an opportunity to recycle some kind of wasted cash into people and players who will be utilised by us between now and the end of the season.

Those comments make it open for interpretation that there is still room to manoeuvre in this transfer window should a player come along.

It could be that the wages freed up by them and other potential departures could go on tying down current contracted players to new deals or adding perhaps another loan player into the squad.

The squad feels settled at the moment, there is strength in depth in departs that once had square pegs in round roles before.

In terms of incoming, in the earlier part of the window, Barton was maybe eyeing up two attacking players but you’d feel with Leon Clarke back, as well as Harvey Saundey on the cusp of a return, perhaps another striker isn’t needed.

Maybe getting some defensive reinforcements would be best as defensive midfielder Josh Grant has had to deputise at full-back whilst Mark Hughes’ departure leaves them one player short at centre-back.

Whilst he hasn’t departed the club and isn’t an incoming player, the fact Connor Taylor is remaining for the season is one of the good news stories of this window.

Cameron Hargreaves has been limited to appearances in the EFL Trophy. (Photo by Alex Burstow/Getty Images)Cameron Hargreaves has been limited to appearances in the EFL Trophy. (Photo by Alex Burstow/Getty Images)
Cameron Hargreaves has been limited to appearances in the EFL Trophy. (Photo by Alex Burstow/Getty Images)

That then opens us up for outgoings and there are still a few players that could depart the Memorial Stadium before or on Monday.

You could perhaps see moves for Cameron Hargreaves, who at 23-years-old and out of contract at the end of the season, may be best suited for a move away. He was on loan at Chippenham earlier in the campaign but hasn’t played since November.

Pablo Martinez, who can play as a defensive midfielder and as a centre-back may benefit from a loan. With Sam Finley now back and Connolly recruited in his position, it will be a hard ask to force his way into the team.

It was discussed last week whether Crystal Palace may recall Sion Spence from his loan but no discussions have taken place. Barton has called for Spence to grab the shirt when he gets the opportunity. The Welshman was an unused substitute on Saturday but should any opportunity arise, he would be there in waiting. Unless a better playing opportunity comes up for Spence expect him to see out the remainder of the season.

Other than that, the Gas seem fine in terms of trimming the squad, unless there are even younger players who may benefit from a loan in the non-league.

That then leaves us to the 14 out-of-contract players whose deals expire at the end of the season.

Antony Evans says he has not thought about a new deal with the club as of yet with his main aims on seeing out the season.

No club has come in from him as of yet and given his importance to the team, he would be likely to stay unless it was a mammoth offer. Evans is a talented player and there is a belief amongst the fans he’ll be playing in a higher division next year whether it is with or without Rovers.

Experienced professionals like Glenn Whelan, Brett Pitman and Anssi Jaakkola are also out of contract but given their ages and status, it is unlikely a club would offer a transfer fee for them.