Plundering The EFL

Sunday, 14 May 2023

Elsewhere in the EFL and further afield…

Like every season, the one just ended has been a breakthrough season for many players across all levels of English football. While the season has also been a showcase for proven players to continue fine form and career development. A move up the footballing pyramid may also help the careers of many players and Rovers are certainly a side in a position to welcome new faces from elsewhere in the EFL, and even further in the footballing world. 

A name that's often spoken about when Championship sides are on the lookout for new additions in the forward area is Josh Maja. Many football fans will remember him as an academy breakthrough star in the Netflix series ‘Sunderland till I die’. Scoring 15 goals in Sunderland's 2018/19 League one campaign. It was this fine scoring form that earned him a move to, then, French top division side Bordeaux. He's had two loan spells in England during his time at Bordeaux, with the most recent being a 15 - game spell at Stoke in the 2021/22 season where he netted one goal. He is currently enjoying the second double figure campaign of his career. Playing in the French second division. The 24 year-old's contract is set to expire in summer and a move back to England may be on the cards. A fairly youthful player would again fit the project that JDT is starting to create at Rovers. 

The EFL is home to a lot of talented players, and Rovers should definitely have their eyes on some of both League One and Two’s top performers and prospects in the upcoming summer window. 

One of those players is  League One player of the year Aaron Collins of Bristol Rovers. The 25 year-old Welshman has had an exceptional season, achieving double figures in both goals and assists for Joey Barton's newly promoted side. Collins is a versatile forward who can be deployed on the left hand side and up top as well as sometimes playing as an attacking midfielder. His creativity and fine finishing makes him one of the division's leading players. During the Pirates' promotion winning campaign he scored 15 goals, but this season he's also added assists and playmaking to his game, making him one of if not the side's biggest assets. Collins is a player who is surely destined for a move up the footballing pyramid, and Blackburn would be a great home for him to showcase his abilities at a higher level. He would potentially be a great replacement for Ben Brereton Diaz, as a very forward thinking and direct left winger, as well as being able to play up top, another position Rovers will no doubt be looking to strengthen.

Another player who has performed in League one this season is Cameron Brannagan at Oxford. The ex-Liverpool academy graduate has been one of Oxford's top performers for several seasons now and he shows no signs of slowing down, in terms of development and improvement. Closing in on 200 appearances for the U’s, Brannagan has again endured a good season on a personal level, despite his side finding themselves just outside the relegation zone. The central midfielder would be a great addition to the Rovers squad adding composure in the centre as well as great transitional play. He is also a penalty specialist, which is something that may be an asset on the radar for the Rovers recruitment team, with the imminent departure of Diaz, the current taker. 

The end of the January transfer window proved to be disappointing with the failed coup of Lewis O'Brien, but he wasn't the only midfielder that Rovers were hoping to get over the line. 19 year-old Rochdale midfielder Ethan Brierley also saw his move to Ewood fall through on deadline day. However, the young starlet doesn't seem to have let the failed transfer affect the remainder of his season. He has continued to put in quality performances for Dale, as they fought against their unfortunate eventual relegation from the EFL. But it's these impressive performances in the survival battle that makes me think that Rovers should definitely revisit their interest and get a deal over the line for the youngster, who will now no doubt have several more eyes on him than in January. He would be a great signing for the future and would certainly be someone that could certainly be a key member of the Rovers squad, should he end up at Ewood. 

Sheffield Wednesday are a side that have spent the last two seasons fighting for promotion back to the Championship and amongst their best players is Josh Windass. The English, former Rangers striker has had another fairly impressive season at Hillsborough, managing a double figure goal tally despite absence due to injury in the campaign. Should the Owls fail to seal promotion via the play-offs, a move to the second tier may be on the cards for Windass. The 29 year-old forward is a fast player who knows how to score and picks his spot when doing so. Despite being in League One he has scored 3 goals against Premiership opposition this season, bagging a brace against high-flying Newcastle in Wednesday's 2-0 FA Cup third round victory, alongside a goal against Southampton in the Owls' third round 1-1 draw with the Saints, that ended in defeat for Wednesday on penalties.


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