Derby and Portsmouth promotion stars amongst Championship free agents Bristol Rovers can sign

-Credit: (Image: George Wass/PPAUK)
-Credit: (Image: George Wass/PPAUK)

Although it's a division Bristol Rovers haven't played in since the 1992/93 season, it's not unheard of for the Gas to acquire players from Championship clubs, especially free agents.

Last summer Rovers signed Connor Taylor for around £300,000 while picking up free agents Jack Hunt (Sheffield Wednesday), James Wilson (Plymouth Argyle) and George Friend (Birmingham City) on permanent deals. Additionally, Chris Martin arrived after the transfer window had closed following his released from Queen's Park Rangers while Ryan Woods and Elkan Baggott were signed on loan from Hull City and Ipswich Town respectively over the course of the campaign.

The budget this summer may not be quite as hefty as it was last year with Rovers in need of a significant overhaul of players after seven were released as well as six loanees returning to their respective parent clubs. However, the free agent pool is a market the Gas and their League One rivals will undoubtedly utilise over the course of the summer as they construct their rosters for what is expected to be a particularly competitive division.

In terms of the names that Gasheads will be most familiar with and that could potentially be realistic, there are players well known to Rovers that have been released by the three promoted clubs in Portsmouth, Derby County and Oxford United.

Ex-Pompey duo Sean Raggett and Joe Rafferty have already been picked up by relegated Rotherham United following their releases from Fratton Park. Meanwhile, Newport-born former Rovers youth player Lee Evans remains available, as does Bath-born goalkeeper Matt Macey.

From Derby, Dwight Gayle scored in the Rams' 3-0 win at the Mem in March having arrived on a short-term deal until the end of the season while former Bristol City midfielder Korey Smith is another of the handful of players let go by County.

Former Gas forward Billy Bodin, who scored for Oxford United in their 2-1 victory against Rovers in October, is also on the market on the back of the U's' play-off success.

Picking out other names that may be recognisable, Sunderland winger Jack Diamond spent the second half of last season on loan at relegated Carlisle United while another former Bristol City midfielder is on the market in Liam Walsh after his release from Swansea City.

With wages playing a significant factor in clubs being able to lure free agents, how many players let go by Championship clubs being realistic targets for Rovers is unknown but you would assume it's not a huge amount. However, there are certainly some in there that seemingly aren't beyond the realms of possibility and would add value to Matt Taylor's squad.

Confirmed Championship free agents

Blackburn Rovers: Sam Barnes, Lenni Cirino, Ben Fyles, Jay Haddow, Jared Harlock, Ethan Walker, Charlie Weston

Bristol City: Matty James, Andreas Weimann

Burnley: Jack Cork, Johann Berg Gudmundsson

Coventry City: Liam Kelly, Simon Moore

Derby County: Dwight Gayle, Conor Hourihane, Scott Loach, Korey Smith, Martyn Waghorn, Joe Wildsmith

Joe Wildsmith was Derby County's number one goalkeeper en route to promotion -Credit:Andrew Kearns - CameraSport via Getty Images
Joe Wildsmith was Derby County's number one goalkeeper en route to promotion -Credit:Andrew Kearns - CameraSport via Getty Images

Hull City: Greg Docherty, Adama Traore, David Robson, Cyrus Christie, Aaron Connolly, Billy Sharp, Vaughn Covil

Luton Town: Dan Potts, Luke Berry, Fred Onyedinma, Elliot Thorpe, Admiral Muskwe

Middlesbrough: Paddy McNair, Liam Roberts

Millwall: Shaun Hutchinson, Bartosz Bialkowski

Norwich City: Danny Batth, Ben Gibson, Dimitris Giannoulis, Sam McCallum, Jon McCracken

Oxford United: James Henry, Marcus Browne, Billy Bodin, Steve Seddon

Plymouth Argyle: Callum Burton, Jack Endacott, Oscar Halls

Portsmouth: Lee Evans, Josh Martin, Matt Macey, Ryan Schofield, Haji Mnoga, Harry Jewitt-White, Liam Vincent, Josh Dockerill

Lee Evans was a youth player at Bristol Rovers -Credit:James Baylis - AMA/Getty Images
Lee Evans was a youth player at Bristol Rovers -Credit:James Baylis - AMA/Getty Images

Preston North End: Ben Woodburn, Greg Cunningham

QPR: Andre Dozzell, Aaron Drewe, Ossie Kakay, Albert Adomah

Sheffield United: Chris Basham, George Baldock, Wes Foderingham, Oliver Norwood, Max Lowe

Sheffield Wednesday: Tyreeq Bakinson, Ciaran Brennan, George Byers, Juan Delgado, Reece James

Stoke City: Tom Edwards, D’Margio Wright-Philips, Tom Sparrow, Blondy Nna Noukeu, Ben Kershaw, Kahrel Reddin, Sonny Singh, Tom Curl, Ian Kamga

Sunderland: Corry Evans, Bradley Dack, Ellis Taylor, Jack Diamond

Swansea City: Liam Walsh, Przemyslaw Placheta, Nathanael Ogbeta

Watford: Ben Hamer, Jake Livermore, Ashley Fletcher

West Bromwich Albion: Matt Phillips, Adam Reach, Nathaniel Chalobah, Erik Pieters, Yann M’Vila, Martin Kelly, Jovan Malcolm