There has (and will be) a lot written over the coming month as to the importance of the January transfer window for the Premiership teams – those challenging for the title, pushing for Europe, or struggling to avoid relegation. One or two key signings can make all the difference and completely turn around a team’s fortune. But the same is true in the Football League, albeit mainly due to loan signings coming in, and key players being lured away by the promise of top-flight football. Here is my list of who will be the top targets and likely movers in the Football League this January.
Wilfired Zaha (Crystal Palace) – The most obvious, and most talked about transfer involving the Football League so far this season. The winger has been on sparkling form this season for Ian Holloway’s Crystal Palace, shooting them into the promotion race. Lightning fast and full of tricks, he may join Theo Walcott, Jermaine Pennant and Scott Sinclair in making the big move to the Premier League
Jack Butland (Birmingham City) – Long tipped for the top, the Great Britain and England international has long been admired as a number one for the future. With Birmingham’s dire financial situation meaning they may well have to jettison their star assets, Butland should be heading back to the top flight very soon
Jeff Hughes (Derby County) – If you believe all you read, the 17 year old midfielder is being courted by Manchester United, Arsenal, and even Barcelona. Slightly hyberbolic these links may be, but Hughes has been terrific for Derby so far this season, providing a fantastic creative spark that has drawn admiring glances from the Premier League.
DJ Campbell (QPR) – A bit of a curve ball this one as he is technically a Premiership player, former FA Cup and deadline day hero (remember him joining Birmingham City from Yeading?), Campbell has helped Mick McCarthy’s transformation of Ipswich Town in the last few weeks, scoring some crucial goals. He has now returned to QPR and may well get a shot at Premiership football, but according to Harry Redknapp, six or seven Championship clubs have made overtures for him so far.
Charlie Austin (Burnley) – In unstoppable goalscoring form earlier in the season, the former Swindon man has so far notched 23 goals in all competitions for the season. Arsenal are reportedly sniffing around, but Burnley have previous in demanding big money for their star strikers, netting £7 million for Jay Rodriguez when he joined Southampton last summer.
Thomas Ince (Blackpool) – Heavily linked with former club Liverpool, the son of Paul has been a rare positive for Blackpool this season following the departure of Ian Holloway, scoring some absolute belters. Would definitely fit in at the top level, but apparently Liverpool’s interest has now cooled, so it will be interesting to see if anyone comes in for him.
Tom Pope (Port Vale) – Currently the top scorer in the Football League, Pope has been vital in propelling Port Vale’s promotion push this season. Micky Adams’ side have greatly benefitted from Pope’s 21 goals in the League so far. Adams will be loath to part with his star man, but may well be tempted if a big offer comes in.
Andy Robinson (Tranmere Rovers) – Key to Tranmere’s remarkable run at the top of League One, Robinson was player of the month back in September and has continued his great run of form throughout the season. A classic goalscoring winger, in depends to be seen whether he would be tempted with a move up the leagues if it came calling.
David Cotterill (Doncaster) – The former Wigan and Bristol City winger has been in great form this season, scoring and contributing many valuable assists. He has Premiership class but the jump up from League One may be too sudden – he would be perfect for any Championship team though.
Kevan Hurst (Southend United) – The winger currently tops the stats sheets for assists in his division, as has been vital for the Shrimpers this season. He has formerly played at Championship level for Scunthorpe, and has proved his class over the years. Would be a very useful signing that would easily fit in to the Championship or League One.