Promotion stars from Derby and Portsmouth are among the Championship free agents that Bristol Rovers can sign


Although Bristol Rovers have not played in this league since the 1992/93 season, it is not uncommon for the Gas to sign players from Championship clubs, particularly out-of-contract players.

Last summer, Rovers signed Connor Taylor for around £300,000 and brought in free agents Jack Hunt (Sheffield Wednesday), James Wilson (Plymouth Argyle) and George Friend (Birmingham City) on permanent deals. Chris Martin also arrived after the transfer window closed, having been released by Queen's Park Rangers, while Ryan Woods and Elkan Baggott were loaned during the season from Hull City and Ipswich Town respectively.

This summer's budget may not be quite as lavish as last year, with Rovers needing a significant player shake-up after seven players were released and six loanees returned to their respective parent clubs. However, the free agent pool is a market that Gas and their League One rivals will no doubt exploit over the summer to build their squads for what is expected to be a particularly competitive league.

The names most familiar to the Gasheads and potentially realistic include players well known to Rovers who have been released by the three promoted sides Portsmouth, Derby County and Oxford United.

Former Pompey duo Sean Raggett and Joe Rafferty have already been signed by relegated Rotherham United following their release from Fratton Park. Newport-born former Rovers youth player Lee Evans, meanwhile, 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 contract until the end of the season, while former Bristol City midfielder Korey Smith is another of the few players released by County.

Former Gas striker Billy Bodin, who scored in Oxford United's 2-1 win over Rovers in October, is also up for sale following the U's play-off success.

To pick out other names that may be familiar, Sunderland winger Jack Diamond spent the second half of last season on loan at relegated side Carlisle United, while another former Bristol City midfielder, Liam Walsh, is on the market after being released by Swansea City.