Blackburn Rovers are set to have an incredibly busy January transfer window with several players soon-to-be out of contract and the club being linked with a number of potential incomings.
The immediate focus must surely be on trying to tie down the players that have deals expiring in the summer of 2021 – those include Ryan Nyambe, Joe Rothwell and Darragh Lenihan who are all important figures.
It appeared that Rovers have already been looking at potential replacements for their skipper Lenihan, with Hearts defender John Souttar being linked recently.
Quiz: Can you name which club Blackburn Rovers sold these 26 players to?
However Stoke City are in pole position to bring the Scotland international to the Bet365 Stadium, meaning that Rovers will potentially have to look at other options.
Whilst there’s no immediate names that have been linked to the club, one player who they could take a chance on plies his trade a little bit further down the M65 at Accrington Stanley in Ross Sykes.
Rovers have dipped into League One recently by signing Harry Pickering and Tayo Edun from Crewe and Lincoln respectively, and it proves that there are potentially cheap gems to be had in the third tier.
Sykes could be one of those – he’s a 22-year-old Burnley-born centre-back who stands at a mammoth 6 feet 5 inches tall and his stats for the season read very favourably.
Along with his more experienced fellow Stanley defender Michael Nottingham, Sykes leads the way in League One for interceptions per game with 2.6 (all stats provided by Whoscored) and he ranks third in terms of centre-backs in terms of aerial duels with 9.1 per match.
It’s important for anyone coming to Rovers in defence to be comfortable on the ball as well and in terms of key passes per game, Sykes is second only to Wycombe’s Joe Jacobsen in League One in terms of centre-backs with 0.7 per game.
There’s still quite a few years until Sykes should hit his peak and he’s used to being roughed up by big League One strikers, so he should be capable of stepping up to the Championship.
Sykes’ contract at the Wham Stadium expires at the end of the season but the club hold an optional extension of a year, so they’re in a pretty secure position in that respect.
But if Rovers want to test Stanley’s resolve in January then Sykes looks to potentially be an ideal Lenihan replacement should he depart.