Potential Free Transfer Targets

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January is fast approaching and for the football world this means the silly season. The mid season transfer scramble as teams look to consolidate their position or save a season. It is also a chance for players coming out of contract to shop themselves around for a better deal or find a new home where they feel their game can benefit. Here is a look at some of the Australians currently abroad who could prove to be handy pickups for some A-League teams.

Neil Kilkenny

The experienced midfielder who started out at Arsenal and was an English youth international before going on to earn 13 caps for the Socceroos comes out of contract this June. Only 30 years old and with over 370 league appearances from the Premier League to League One, the player known for his set piece delivery as well as his passing would be a great midfield general for any A-League team.

He is a versatile midfielder having played everywhere from attacking midfield to defensive midfield, on the left and on the right. Currently playing for Preston North End in the Championship he has found himself coming off the bench more this year after featuring more prominently in their successful promotion push last season.

Now would be a perfect time for a player of Kilkenny’s quality to come and lead the midfield for an A-League team. Anytime you can get an Australian player with Kilkenny’s pedigree is a bonus, as it frees up the reliance on a visa signing in a key position as the success of Mooy this season has shown.

Rhys Williams

When it comes to versatility, one can’t look past Rhys Williams. Described by Tony Mowbray as a Rolls Royce, the classy midfielder has attracted Premier League interest in the past before being struck down by injury. Health is where the gamble is for a player whose ability is unquestioned. He is finally back in training and has turned out for Middlesbrough F.C. Under 21s so hopefully the latest achilles problem is behind him.

An Australian return would offer a chance to decrease the physical workload and demands on his body while offering the opportunity to bring up his young family in his home country which he has expressed a desire to do. For any A-League club they get a ready made leader with over 150 appearances at a high level and who when fit was an automatic selection for Australia.

His movement and positioning off the ball show signs of a sharp football brain and he has the passing and vision to cause a lot of defenses some problems whether playing as deep lying playmaker or pushing further forward. Again the big question remains over his health but definitely worth sounding out.

Aaron Downes

The man from Mudgee is a no-nonsense center back who has plied his trade in the lower leagues of England ever since leaving the Australian Institute of Sport back in 2003. Everywhere he has played he has been a fan favourite with committed displays and leadership. Currently the captain for the table-topping Cheltenham Town in the National League the defender has spent most of his career in League One and Two.

His defensive qualities usually get the plaudits from the fans but he is also handy for a goal especially at set pieces with 30 goals to his name. He also represented Australia at youth level where he notched up 4 goals in 8 appearances with the U23s. The recent success of Mitch Austin in the A-League and even Jamie Vardy at Leicester show that the lower leagues have plenty of players who can play.

At 30 years old, there are still a few good years left and now would be the perfect time for both player and an A-League club to take a punt on each other.

Brad Inman

The Adelaide native left Australian shores as a teenager to join the Newcastle United academy in 2008. He impressed enough to be called up to the match day squad but wasn’t able to get the break through into the first team. Sent on loan to League One’s Crewe Alexandra, he made an immediate impression with his industrious play and trickery while popping up with important goals. At the end of the loan Crewe wanted to keep him and were eventually able to come to an agreement with Newcastle.

Playing in the midfield, on either wing, or as a secondary striker Inman on his day has the ability to unlock any defense. His skillset might not be ideal for League One and his temperment and his commitment has fairly or unfairly been questioned at times. His talent is undeniable though and  is the type of player who can excite the crowd and provide that special moment.

At 24, he has a lot of football left in him so some impressive displays in the A-League could see him earn an eventual call up to the Australian national team. A talent like Inman is worth a look because in the right environment the sky is the limit.

Brett Holman

Holman had an outstanding career in the Eredivisie and we eventually saw what he was about in the Socceroos despite an awkward start. His form warranted a move to Aston Villa but it didn’t work out after a promising start. Perhaps he gave up on Europe too early when he accepted a good money offer in the UAE with Al-Nasr and that signaled the end of his international career.

Still only 31, there’s no doubt Holman could be a very influential player in the A-League although one would expect he’d have to be signed as a marquee. With the new marquee rule that both marquees can be of any nationality, it remains to be seen whether a team will use the marquee spot for an Aussie player.

Looking at his club career, the former Socceroo has the quality to be a dominant force in the A-League. He’ll provide goals either with assists or scoring them himself as his 64 goals, predominantly as a winger, in the Eredivisie and Premier League show.

Adam Howard

Adam is one of the founders of Football Central and the creator of OSAussies.com.  He has followed the career paths of Australian footballers playing in leagues all over the world.  Born in Adelaide and currently residing in Hiroshima, Adam brings a unique perspective to Australian football.  He is an ardent supporter of Australia's domestic competition and national team.

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