Looking for a bargain Here are the top 10 players that can be picked up in the Football League's January sale
12:59 GMT, 24 December 2012
The Football League plays host to a number of players who could help most Premier League squads in need of a boost in the January transfer window – Sportsmail's Joe Ridge takes a look at who the top ten signings would be.
Wilfried Zaha, winger, Crystal Palace, 15m
Has gone off the boil somewhat in recent weeks since being given a surprise England debut in Sweden last month, but Zaha’s maverick ability is there for all to see.
This season he has aligned a work rate and a decision-making prowess with his outrageous skill set and blinding pace and is rightly rated at 15m-plus.
Arsenal, Man United, Chelsea, Liverpool and Man City have all been keeping tabs on the 20-year-old, and should one make a move in January it could well spark a bidding war.
Wanted man: Wilfried Zaha has been targeted by the Premier League's elite clubs
Will Hughes, midfielder, Derby, 5m
The Championship’s answer to Jack Wilshere, Hughes has got a bit of
everything, and at just 17 he is one of the hottest prospects in English
football, let alone the Football League.
The combination of a natural swagger on the ball and a willingness to
run himself into the ground suggest that Hughes would not look out of
place at a top six side, let alone at strugglers needing someone to
dictate proceedings from the middle of the park.
It would have to take a bid in the region of 5million to tempt Derby
though, as the England Under 21 international – not 18 until April – is
dragging Nigel Clough’s side into play-off contention and is clearly
loving playing week in, week out.
Harry Maguire, defender, Sheffield United, 3m
An imperious yet serene presence at
the heart of the Blades’ defence, Maguire may be playing in League One
but there are far worse centre backs starting regularly in the top
At just 19, Maguire – another England
Under 21 international – would be happy to sit tight and see out another
promotion bid for the Blades rather than gamble on a move to the
However, if a Premier League club come calling with a bid in
the 3m-region that saw fellow academy graduate Matthew Lowton join
Aston Villa in the summer, it may be too good for him and his club to
Jack Butland, goalkeeper, Birmingham, 6m
Like Zaha, Butland was exposed to international football very early
in his career after competing at the London 2012 Olympics for Team GB
this summer and for England against Italy in August – all this before he
had even made his Birmingham debut.
After a couple of early season blunders Butland has been showing his
class in recent weeks and he has an aura about him that only the best
goalkeepers have. Liverpool and Southampton are expected to tempt the
financially-stricken Blues with an 6m bid for the 19-year-old.
Top stopper: Jack Butland competed at the Olympics for Team GB
Charlie Austin, striker, Burnley, 5m
Austin lost his place at the top of
the Championship’s goalscoring charts to Crystal Palace striker Glenn
Murray at the weekend, but the pair’s respective ages – 23 and 29 – make
the former a more attractive prospect to any prospective buyer.
An instinctive finisher with a strong
physical presence, Austin has been nothing short of lethal with both
feet and in the air this campaign for a stuttering Burnley side.
The ex-Swindon man was working as a
bricklayer just three years ago, and he has the potential to cement
safety for a Premier League side in need of goals.
Paul Robinson, goalkeeper, Blackburn, 1m
Rovers boss Henning Berg insisted he
had not fallen out with the former England No 1 Robinson after defeat at Blackpool despite dropping him to the bench in
favour of rookie Jake Kean.
The Norwegian cited footballing
reasons for the decision to leave the ex-Tottenham and Leeds man on the
bench, but in truth the 33-year-old has been a standout performer in a
dismal season so far for the club.
Robinson looks certain to leave Ewood
Park in January and would represent good value for money for the likes
of Southampton, Fulham and Reading.
Chris Wood, striker, Millwall (on loan from West Brom), 1m
Strictly speaking the 21-year-old New
Zealander is a Premier League player, but he has made just three top
flight appearances for the Baggies since joining the club in 2009,
compared to 96 games in four separate loans to Football League clubs in
the same period.
Wood, who’s loan deal the Den expires
in January, netted twice in the Lions’ 2-2 draw at Brighton on Tuesday
night, taking his season tally to 10 goals in 18 games.
With a plethora of striking options
available to manager Steve Clarke, West Brom are looking to cash in on
the pacy and powerful frontman and a whole host of Championship clubs
are preparing 1m bids, but Norwich boss Chris Hughton could gazump the
lot of them with a move for the man he brought to Birmingham on a
five-month loan last season.
Lethal: Chris Wood has performed well for Millwall while on loan from West Brom
Thomas Ince, winger, Blackpool, 6m
Released by Liverpool less than 18
month ago after failing to make a single appearance at Anfield, the Reds
are ironically leading the chase for the son of former England
Thanks to an exposure to regular
first–team football at Bloomfield Road last season, 20-year-old Ince has
shot to stardom in 2012. He nearly fired play-off runners-up Blackpool
to promotion with a blistering run of form that he has continued into
Capable of playing on either flank or
behind a main striker, Ince is blessed with a sweet left foot, a turn of
pace, a bag of tricks and a goalscoring record any striker would be
Ince is likely to cost around 6m, but on current form he could walk into most top flight sides.
Tom Pope, striker, Port Vale, 500k
No doubt a left-field selection, but
late bloomer Pope is finally living up to his potential under Micky
Adams at Port Vale having flattered to deceive at both Crewe an
The powerfully built Pope, 27, has
always show flashes of brilliance to suggest he could play at a higher
level, but this season he has added consistency and, more importantly,
goals to his game, putting off-field problems including a six-month
suspended prison sentence for affray in 2009 behind him.
Pope is not going to be the first
name on any top flight shopping list, but if any Premier League manager
is looking to pick up a bargain from the lower leagues they could do a
lot worse than taking a punt on the 6ft3in striker, who tops the League
Two goalscoring charts with 19 goals.
Harry Forrester, midfielder, Brentford, 500k
Released by Aston Villa in the summer
of 2011, Forrester is starting to live up to his undoubted potential at
League One Brentford.
The 21-year-old former England youth
international has put in a string of impressive displays as the Bees
have forced themselves into automatic promotion contention with a
nine-game unbeaten run.
Forrester, who has bagged eight goals
from midfield this season, has been linked with a return to Villa Park
with Paul Lambert reportedly preparing a bid.
Growth: Harry Forrester (right) is starting to live up to his potential