Coming to a Championship Ground Soon?
With less than a month to go before the commencement of new Championship season, I thought it would be worth identifying those players currently operating outside the division whom one of the 24 managers might like to take a punt on. Some have been talked about all summer and seem destined to be plying their trade at second tier grounds come August, some have so far escaped too much attention, and some are outrageous plucks from the ether. Here goes:
Nicky Bailey (Charlton Athletic)
The “ginger chav” has an irritating way of winding up opposition fans but he is the prototype defensive midfielder. Squat and muscular, but composed in possession, he was a very rare success for Charlton last season – Alan Pardew (who I think is a good choice of manager for Southampton, by the way) having cleverly picked him up from Southend, possibly on the strength of this write up dating back to Bailey’s Southend days.
Nigel Reo-Coker (Aston Villa)
Surprisingly rumoured to be the subject of a swap deal that would take him to Middlesbrough in part exchange for Tuncay Şanlı, one wonders if the Croydon born midfielder will be pushed down the leagues due to the strength of the Premier division’s foreign contingent, or more because he doesn’t, in old fashioned parlance, know how to apply himself. A driving presence at his best, he is a former England Under-21 captain and would be an unignorable addition.
Adel Taarabt (Tottenham Hotspur)
The Mister Woo of the Premier League. Outrageously skilled but even by the standards of the winger breed in general, just as likely to fall over as do anything of note. Frustrating for Spurs fans but then again, so was Giovani Dos Santos and he looked streets above the level on his eight appearances for Ipswich last term. Taarabt performed a series of cameos for QPR in the Spring.
Rickie Lambert (Bristol Rovers)
Despite the egregious, attention-seeking spelling of his first name, Lambert’s goals tally of 29 for mid-table Bristol Rovers in last season’s League One will surely have attracted the scouts, his co-winner of the Golden Boot, Simon Cox having already made his way to the Hawthorns. Like Cox, Lambert is something of a no-nonsense striker and perhaps lacks the obvious pace and skill to flourish higher up, but someone will surely shell out for him.
Chris Taylor (Oldham Athletic)
Joe Royle did well to tie Taylor to a new contract in his recent brief spell in charge at Boundary Park but it’s likely that this is as much to ensure the Latics receive a large fee for the eighteen year old outside right. Taylor’s lifelong allegiance to the club as a fan won’t prevent him moving on if the appropriate offer comes in and Doncaster Rovers are just one side who have been linked with him in the past.
Scott Griffiths (Dagenham and Redbridge)
Overlooked in the recent pillaging raid that saw Brentford take Daggers trio Danny Foster, Sam Saunders and Ben Strevens to Griffin Park, Griffiths is a 23 year old left back who gets up and down the pitch industriously and links exceptionally well with the rest of the team. He already has 150 appearances for the club from the Essex marshes and will need to move on to further his career as his current club are now irredeemably weakened.
Jack Cork (Chelsea)
Cork is son of the old Wimbledon and Sheffield United warhorse Alan Cork, the only player to feature in an FA Cup semi final with a bushy grey beard. Last season, he enjoyed long spells on loan at Southampton and Watford, appearing as a centre back and a defensive midfielder. Another loan spell surely beckons, with his old boss Brendan Rodgers likely to take him to Reading. He rejoices in the middle name Porteous.
Grégory Thil (US Boulogne)
The top scorer in the French second division, Thil’s goalscoring record is exemplary with 75 strikes in 149 appearances for the club from the Pas de Calais. At 29, he may be considered too old, but but he will be well under the radar of Premier League clubs and could turn out to be either a Gallic Steve Bull, or the new Stéphane Guivarc’h.
Matthew Špiranović (1. FC Nuremberg)
Špiranović has already represented Australia at all levels and performed once for the national team, but 25 appearances across 3 seasons in Bavaria may lead him to tread the well travelled path to the UK. The depth of young talent in Aussie soccer is much more evident these days as the sport is taken more seriously following their outstanding World Cup in 2006. The Socceroos have indeed already qualified for the next jamboree.
Ched Evans (Manchester City)
With fellow alumnus of golden generation of City youth players Daniel Sturridge having found his way to Stamford Bridge and already found the score sheet pre-season, Evans could be next to go, with Sheffield United a likely destination. In all truth, the young Welshman has been just as potent in a sky blue shirt as his luckier pal and it would be no surprise to see him right at the top of the Championship scoring charts come May.