What Brentford, QPR, Millwall, Charlton Athletic and Leyton Orient might need • London Football Scene

6 min

With the New Year seeing the opening of the January transfer window, clubs up and down the country will be looking to do business to strengthen their position.

Whether it is for a promotion push, staving off relegation or consolidating their position, there will be plenty of deals done before Monday, January 31st.

Factor in the current coronavirus situation wreaking havoc with squads, fixture lists and finances and this month could be even more tumultuous than usual.

With this in mind, we asked each of our individual club writers to assess what each of the sides may or may not need to do this month…

Brentford – 12th, Premier League: Played 19, Points = 23

By Ahmed Ali (@Ahmed__Demha)

Covid cases, injury set-backs and inconsistent league form – the opening few months of Brentford’s inaugural Premier League campaign has been nothing short of a whirlwind. 

As far as the league table is concerned, the Bees are firmly entrenched in mid-table but more importantly in terms of survival, 12 points ahead of the drop zone after accruing 23 points from 19 games.

Even before a coronavirus outbreak across Brentford’s players and staff, injuries had taken their toll on a streamlined squad full of talent but lacking in top-flight experience and, with the club well-positioned in the table, this may be the right time to bolster the ranks. 

With Frank’s insistence on playing a back three and niggling injuries to other centre-backs, it has put further pressure on Pontus Jansson who is out of contract next summer.

If the club captain does not follow Christian Norgaard in signing a new deal soon, a young but experienced replacement may have to be considered alongside a natural right wing-back with the Bees heavily reliant on Sergi Canos and Mads Roerslev – the former a winger by trade. 

QPR – 5th, Championship: Played 24, Points = 41

By James Cohen (@jamescohen1998)

Despite their strongest start to a Championship season in over six years, QPR could be about to enter a make-or-break period for their Premier League promotion hopes.

Mark Warburton’s side sit fifth in the table with 41 points from 24 games, leaving them five points off second-placed Blackburn Rovers with a game in hand on their rivals.

Much of the club’s recruitment plans could hinge on the upcoming African Cup of Nations with key personnel Seny Dieng, Osman Kakay and Ilias Chair making the trip to Cameroon for this month’s tournament – leaving an already thin squad further stretched ahead of a busy period of games.

With the club still feeling the effects of the Financial Fair Play fine handed to them years ago and, with the current global pandemic throwing football clubs into even further economic disarray, loan market moves are likely to be the obvious choice.

The approach served QPR well last year and would make perfect sense again this time around with their trio of AFCON players likely to return by the end of February at the latest.

Millwall – 11th, Championship: Played 24, Points = 33

By Ryan Loftus (@RyanJamesLoftus)

Winless runs, unbeaten streaks, injury crises and performances swinging from sublime to disastrous – Millwall’s season has been a roller coaster so far. 

The Lions currently sit seven points off the Championship Play-Off places with games in hand but have struggled to provide the consistency to suggest they are genuine promotion contenders.

One thing that has predominantly marked Gary Rowett’s Millwall tenure is the continued absence of a creative influence in the final third to provide consistent, quality chances.

And with talisman Jed Wallace set to sign a pre-contract agreement with Turkish side Besiktas, the issue has suddenly become an increasing concern.

Millwall’s left-hand side has been a perennial problem for generations with Connor Mahoney flattering to deceive and Mason Bennett seemingly destined for an occasional cameo role.

If Millwall decide to stick with what they’ve got for the remainder of the season, a rebuilding project will still be needed in the summer – so a few shrewd additions this month might not necessarily be a bad thing.

Charlton Athletic – 13th, League One: Played 24, Points = 29

By Akshat Chandel (@chandel_aki)

Charlton have arguably already made their biggest signing of the window with Johnnie Jackson appointed permanent manager just before Christmas.

Since taking over from Nigel Adkins in October, the 39-year-old has enjoyed the most successful start by any manager in the club’s history and, although the Addicks’ promotion hopes are all but over, the side are very much on an upward trajectory.

However, a creative spark who can play between the lines and move opposition players out of position while still having an eye for a penetrative pass would bring an added dimension to Charlton’s already effective wing-based approach.

Jayden Stockley’s recent absence through injury has also highlighted Charlton’s lack of depth upfront and, with Conor Washington also out of contract in the summer, this may be another area that Jackson is keen to reinforce.

After last summer’s hectic recruitment policy, expect a quieter window where quality as opposed to quantity will be key, focusing on those already at the club in order to preserve much-needed stability.

Leyton Orient – 10th, League Two: Played 22, Points = 31

By Brendan Pitcher (@BrendanPitcher)

During the latter stages of Leyton Orient’s recent fans’ forum, after talks of a new stadium had subsided and the departure of CEO Danny Macklin had been announced, the topic of conversation inevitably turned to the club’s January transfer plans.

The area for reinforcement which Director of Football Martin Ling chose to prioritise in his answer was the right side of defence as, in his words – “we have no cover of a natural right-back.”

Something else Ling sought to highlight in the fans’ forum was the need for added creativity in midfield.

With much of Orient’s success going forward coming from wide positions, the creative burden in central areas has often fallen on young midfielders Hector Kyprianou and Dan Kemp who, despite tidy displays, have been unable to rack up as many goal contributions as they would have liked. 

Situated just four points off the Play-Off places in a wide-open fourth tier, the O’s seem to be on the precipice of success. 

Wholesale changes are certainly not necessary, but some shrewd January dealings could prove the difference between a fourth season in League Two or back to League One for the first time in seven years.

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