An STFC view on the January Window

The transfer window is wide open and Town fans have every right to expect a busy month. There are many situations that need resolving and just as many deals to be done. A turn of form under Martin Ling made a few whispers of a playoff push, is that realistic ambition? Does Lee Power and co still need to build a side capable of avoiding the drop? What exactly can Town fans look forward too? Not as much as we may like history would suggest.

In the last 2 winter windows Town have done very little business. What we do is generally quite early. In Jan 2014 we signed George Barker on the 7th, Michael Smith on the 23rd and loaned in Jamie Reckord on 24th. Last year we had signed Jermain Hylton and loaned in John Swift by January 10th. As for out goings, we as fans have reason to be optimistic. Over the last 2 windows no player seen as a key player has been sold. Just two youth players left on loan in 2014, whereas last year Reeves, Harley and De Costa were all sold/released and Darren Ward was allowed to join Crawley on loan. Miles Storey also left on loan to Newport.

Lee Power is a fan of a late deal though so we should keep an eye out. Not in January windows of course but Luongo and Byrne were originally signed on loan on “loan deadline day” while Nicky Ajose was signed the day after deadline day this summer.

 

What do we know?

Incomings – Yilko Pino is all set to sign until the end of the season from Celta Vigo.

In terms of outgoings, we have released defensive midfielder Moumar Bangoura and sold Henrik Ojamaa. Wes Thomas has already returned to Birmingham as has El Abd to Bristol City. Louis Thompson has returned to Norwich while Ben Gladwin has been recalled by QPR. Miles Storey has extended his stay at Inverness Caledonian Thistle until the end of the season and Kevin Stewart has returned to Liverpool. Finally youth prospect Will Randall has completed his move to Wolves.

 

Where do we need to improve?

In my opinion all areas could do with strengthening–

In goal – I’m among Vigouroux’s harshest critic and have regularly called for him to be dropped. The frustration is he is terribly inconsistent. He was brilliant against Burton and then you see the goals we conceded against Southend. Not all his fault but the second in particular caused Sky Sports pundit Charlie Nicholas criticise his performance. Perhaps he can continue to improve?

Defensively we have real issues. Branco seems much improved and we know what we will get from Turnball but with Nathan Thompson sadly spending more time in the physio room than on the pitch (although is nearing a return after featuring for a development side against Villa) and El Abd in the balance as to whether we will get him back, we need probably two centre backs. Jack Stephens would be ideal and Southampton have recalled him from his current loan so may be an option. I would not suggest an unknown is where we need to go though. We all witnessed the impact El Abd had so an experienced campaigner with real quality is much needed. I would send back Williams (the Liverpool loanee who is also a permanent fixture in the physio room) and free up a loan space. We have been linked with young Irish defender Sean Hoare who seems to have all the attributes of a good player, but I still feel a more experienced head is needed.

I think we have tremendous midfield options but seem to lack natural width. Personally I would add a natural left winger. The Jordan Stewart situation is still not completely clear, maybe sending him on loan somewhere closer to home like Scotland could help him? After the game against Burton I feel we need a midfield general. Lucky for us we have one ready in Drissa Traore, a player I rate highly. I hope he is given a fair chance. He is the best I have seen in that position since Jonathan Douglas. Sadly I just don’t think Rodgers cuts it.

In attack we have two very good strikers in Ajose and Obika but that is all we have. There are many good players behind them with an eye for goal like Robert and Kasim but I feel we need at least one more striker. I would go for Thomas personally if available as Smith does not want to stay and Storey has not be given a chance. If not Thomas, than a forward in a similar ilk is required. A physical forward with good mobility and hold up play. The recent loss of Ojamaa and the recall of Gladwin further depletes our options so this must be a main focus point.

 

The view from my fellow fans –

I ran a twitter survey and the results showed fans agree with me that defence is the main area of concern. There is clearly a lot of belief in Ajose and Obika to score the goals needed to keep us up/get us up as not one vote for attack.

Final % results:

GK – 23%

Def – 54%

Mid – 23%

Att – 0%

 

I also asked a Swindon fans forum on Facebook and got the following feedback:

“I’d get Thomas on a perm deal and a CB – look into league 2 for one. LWB try to sign Toff again”.

“Think we need a new GK, agree Wes Thomas should be given a chance also sign El Abd. Brophy needs a chance at LB, maybe a ball winning midfielder”

“Depends on Louis Thompson, if we can keep him great if not definitely another central midfielder with that sort of aggression, not going to pull out of a tackle. LWB is fine, well it will be when BOO or Brophy get a decent run – both look like they could be good players. Brad Barry has had the sort of chance they need and honestly I think he has been one of our best performers.”

“Out wide. We play with no natural width or wingers. Id say also a ball winner in centre mid that sits just in fornt of the back 3/4/5.”

“CM, CD and Goal Keeper. The spine of the team needs strewnghting. We have too many defensive midfielders and not enough attacking midfielders. Mind you saying all that out wide we have nothing so what the hell, decent wide players and a striker as well.”

“Defo need a winger, some pace out wide that can knock a good ball into the box.”

“Centre back and a strong midfield general.”

“Need to sort out the midfield – Kasim and Rodgers just aren’t playing for us.”

“We could do with a centre back, left back and a tough tackling experienced midfielder.

 

So who have we been linked with?

Adam El Abd – CB – Bristol City

Vastly experienced defender who while on loan with us earlier in the season was made captain. Different to our other options, he is more old school defender in the sense he is combative and throws his body in the way of everything. Is well liked by the Town faithful and would be a great addition. Said his goodbyes via Twitter and reports suggest there is no chance of him coming back. It does not look like City want to play him so must be looking to sell. The fact he has not gone anywhere yet suggests there is still a chance.

 

Sean Hoare – Centre back – St Patricks Athletic.

A long term target for Town, fans were first advised about the 21 year old in _ 2015. The Irishman has had a 10 day trial with the Robins but the stumbling block appears to be the transfer fee.

Hoare has also been linked with the likes of Swansea and Portsmouth and In January it looked like he was set to sign for Hull.

Despite his tender age, Hoare has various levels of experience. He has played Champions League and Europa League football as well as playing for and captaining the Ireland U21’s. During his time with St Pats they have won many trophies and he too has won awards including young player of the year.

I asked if any St Patricks fans wanted to offer their views on him and I take it as how well he is thought of that 1 fan replied simply “yes hands off !!!“

He went on to say “Seanny is quality for us, I think he’ll easily make the step over there. He’s solid alright. Hull wanted him in the summer.” “The fee is always a hard one to guess with players over here (Ireland). Think Hull were giving around 250k mark.” “He is a bit of both (when I asked about style of play) good passer and he’s not afraid to put it on the line. We’ll do what we can to keep him but if he does sign I think you have a gem.”

 

Aaron Kuhl – Mid – Reading

England under 19 International Kuhl spent the first part of this season at SPL strugglers Dundee United. A central midfielder, he is highly thought of amongst the Reading faithful.

When I asked Reading fans their views one said” Kuhl is a CDM, very comfortable on the ball, still a little light but a huge prospect, could be a future captain. “

While a second replied “Kuhl especially looks like he could be a future PL player. Needs to bulk up a bit. “

A third reply said “Kuhl has a fantastic pass on him and tremendous vision. Needs to be carried a bit defensively though.”

It is not all positive though. One Dundee United fan discussed him at length “Without doubt the worst player I have seen.” “Honestly he was just useless. Gives ball away all the time and plays on the defensive line. Honestly he’s shite” “He got sent home from a team that were bottom of the league and couldn’t even get in the squad nearing the end of spell”.

 

Niall Keown – Def – Reading

Irish defender Niall is son of former England international Martin. A small suggestion of a loan offer from Town, the defender is described as being a key member of the academy side and despite still being eligible for the under 18 squad, plays regularly for the under 21’s.

Last season he managed 2 senior appearances including 1 start for the Royals and has captained the under 21 side on occasion.

Like team mate Kuhl, Keown is highly thought of by the Reading fans. When I asked their thoughts one replied “Keown is a RB/CB, son of Martin. Been on the bench for us a bit and seems promising. “, while a second said “Keown is very flexible and comfortable on the ball. We have not really seen much of him, very talented though. “

 

George Moncur – Attacking midfielder/ Forward – Colchester

Son of former Town midfielder John, George is a graduate of the famed West Ham academy. After loans at AFC Wimbledon and Partick Thistle, Moncur was signed to Colchester United.

Seems to always be linked with a move to Swindon, it is perhaps unlikely as we will be challenging a number of Championship sides for his signature. Should we manage it though we would be signing, in my opinion, one of the best talents in League One. MK Dons and Sheffield United are the latest to be reported as interested.

Moncur scored the goal in the 1-0 win over Preston which secured Colchester’s survival last season.

 

Yelko Pino – Attacking Midfielder – Celta Vigo

Has been here since September waiting on clearance and is expected to sign a 6 month loan dial. Celta vigo confused everyone by announcing on their Twitter that he had signed on loan, a deal chairman Lee Power refuted.

The 20 year old has represented Spain at various youth levels.

 

Jack Stephens – CB – Southampton

Requires no introduction to Town fans as the talented Saints defender (who can also playing holding midfield) has had two loan spells with us including last year’s pursuit of the play offs. Got the loan move his impressive performances deserved to high flying, big spending Middlesbrough but a lack of first team action see Ronald Koeman terminate the loan.

An ideal replacement for the now departed Adam El Abd, Town face strong competition for Stephens with at least two Championship clubs reported to be interested.

 

Louis Thompson – CM – Norwich

Another who needs no introduction. A graduate of our academy, Louis is thought of in the highest regard by Robins fans. Potentially looking at his third loan move to Swindon. After signing to Norwich last January, he was immediately loaned back. Then he signed on loan during the first part of this season. Despite suggestion of interest from the like of Blackburn and Huddersfield, Power’s working relationship with the Norwich chief-exec means we may be able to get the box-to-box Wales under 21 International again.

 

I too have been guilty of starting rumours. I for one championed the signing of Ajose before it was even properly linked including changing my Twitter name in support of the move. This window is no different and there a couple of players I am aware of that could fit in nicely to the current squad.

 

Casper Sloth – CM – Leeds United

A midfielder that I hear and read glowing reports of. Highly thought of at Elland Road he could be a like for like replacement if Thompson does not come back. An eye for goal and a good passer of the ball too. Danish international Sloth is reported to be frustrated at his lack of first team opportunities. He is described as a skilful and creative midfielder with great vision. He can create a high tempo and hold up the ball well. He is also capable of playing as a winger.

When I asked Leeds fans about him one said “I feel sorry for him. He plays regular for the under 21’s and scores quite a few goals. He got an injury and never really got back in the team. He is a Danish International and played against England so must be quite good”

 

Harry Panayiotou – Fwd – Leicester City

A lot has been made of his team mate Dodoo this season but Panayiotou is another young forward that I read and hear good reports about. A pacey forward and natural finisher, the young foxes forward has won Barclays U21 player of the month in March of last year, before winning Leicester young player of the season. He is also a St Kitts and Nevis International where he scored a hat trick on his debut. He also scored on his Leicester debut in 2012. On the final day of the season he replaced Lloyd Dyer and scored the winner against Leeds in added time. In 2014 he joined Port Vale on loan but failed to make an appearance.

 

Ultimately money talks but if there is one thing Lee Power does well it is a transfer window so I for one am very hopeful of a positive second half to the season. I would not be surprised for Town to continue dealing with Norwich given our chairman’s contacts there. The sight of Tim Sherwood at the game on Saturday also got a few tongues wagging but he may have recommended a few Spurs of Villa starlets to Mr Power. I would also suggest getting a loan player as part of the Randall deal is a possibility.

Power kept his cards close to his chest in last night’s phone in suggesting:

  • We are likely to make a permanent bid for Vigouroux.
  • Jordan Stewart is one of a couple that could go out on loan
  • There is interest in Kasim from the Premier League.
  • Pino is still here but will wait on the new manager making a decision on him.
  • Hoare is still do-able but a decision needs to be made.
  • We are trying for Stephens but unlikely.
  • He is hopeful on Louis Thompson returning.
  • Seemingly ruled out returns for Byrne, Luongo, El-Abd and Ranger.
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