Potential Transfer Targets | January 2024

With Cedric Main, Lewis Knight and Mikael Ndjoli’s loans all expiring and JJ O’Donnell picking up an injury that will require surgery and take him out of action for a few months, the only lads we have up top and on the wings are JJ Hooper and youngsters Rio Joisce and Charlie Aitken.

Hoops’ Blyth career has been a bit stop start and we’ve frequently played with 2 up front this season, so at least 1 new striker is essential and preferably, I’d like 2. As for wide players, Joisce and Aitken are young lads with a lot of raw talent, but they both need game time and experience at a lower level before they’re ready to play regular football at this level. That means we need at least 2 wingers through the door ASAP.

Adam Boyes – ST

Wey, this one is rather obvious. Having been linked with Blyth a few times last season, we may finally get a chance to bring him in once Marske eventually resign from the league. So far, he’s netted 18 times across Marske’s 25 games in all competitions.

At 33 years old he’s still going strong and will be capable of bagging plenty of goals to keep well us off the drop zone and possibly even mount a play off push.

The main problems will of course be the cost of bringing him in and agreeing a fair deal, as the competition to bring him in will no doubt be fierce. I’d suspect Graeme Lee will be keen to take him to Spennymoor, however they do already have Glen Taylor and Will Harris up top who’ve both scored a fair few this season, meaning Boyes won’t be guaranteed regular first team football.

Michael Spellman – LW/RW/ST

Spellman impressed most fans last season with his performance, and most hoped we’d be able to bring him back in at the start of the season. I believe he was looked at early on but Sunderland wanted to keep him at the club. His stats for the Under 21’s at Sunderland are more or less identical to what they were last year, playing 8 times and scoring twice while playing on both wings.

If he isn’t going to get a chance to on loan at a team higher up the pyramid, another loan spell at Spartans makes sense for all parties. He turns 22 later this year, so he needs and impressive loan spell somewhere if he’s to earn another contract at Sunderland.

Kevin Hayes – RW

We’ve already covered Kevin in the summer transfer targets post where we described him as “A proper ‘Inside Forward’ who’s left footed and an exceptional dribbler who’s technically gifted and grafts non-stop. He’s also got enough pace about him to trouble just about any full back at NLN level”.

This season, he seems to have upped his game yet again having scored 16 goals in 26 appearances from the wing and is one of the main reasons Stockton are running away with the NPL East. At 25 years old and still a year or so away from peak, he just makes total sense.

Obviously with his long-standing commitment to Stockton, he’ll no doubt be very settled there and may take some persuading if were to snap him up.

Aiden Rutledge – ST

This one will no doubt be one of the more ambitious players on this list as he may be needed at Gateshead in the near future, and I’ve no doubt Scarborough will be doing everything in their power to extend his loan until the end of the season.

Gateshead’s top scorer Marcus Dinanga will no doubt be a transfer target for some top end National League and League Two teams this January, meaning Rutledge may thrust into the starting line up if they don’t have replacements lined up or can’t get them in for whatever reason.

At Scarborough, he’s bagged 6 goals in 8 appearances so Gateshead will likely want to give him a chance in the first team. However, if his brought back from Scarborough and they then decide to loan him back out to another team, we need to do everything in our power to get him.

Dale PearsonST/RW/LW

With 12 goals in 17 games this season for Dunston, Dale’s probably in some of the best form of his career. Capable of playing up top and on either wing, Dale would be a more versatile and possibly a more cost-effective signing. Apart from having a decent scoring record, he’s plenty of pace about him as well as being a physical threat, which we’ve lacked at times this season.

His original spell at Spartans was cut short rather early due to Lee Clark being Lee Clark, and I’d say he’s more than worth another go in a green and white shirt. The only problem is though, he actively choses to spend some of his free time knocking round with Rhys Evans… which is a worry.

Adam Wilson – RW/LW

Another player we covered back in the summer and described him as “A winger who has bags of flair, pace and is capable of goals”. He’s spent the first half of the season with Bradford City in League Two, he’s only managed 8 games in the league where he’s scored once. He hasn’t featured for Bradford in 9 weeks as they’ve now stopped using wingers, they’ll likely be looking to ship him out on loan.

Chances are he’ll end up at a full-time team in the National League, but if that doesn’t happen there is a slim chance he could end up at Blyth. Another one who’s admittedly an unlikely signing, but he’d be the sort of player that would take us to another level and help us to compete for a play-off spot.

Corey McKeown – RW/LW

Rumoured to have been transfer listed by the now previous management team at Spennymoor, the forever unreliable Spartans rumour mill had him linked with both us and Morpeth in recent weeks. Though of course with a new management team in, that may change and he may be given another opportunity in Graeme Lee’s system.

Having left Spartans 14 months ago, Corey hasn’t really become a star player down at Spennymoor. Across 38 league appearances where he’s only completed a full 90 minutes on 5 occasions, he’s yet to score a goal for them in the league.

With that taken into account, it would be difficult to justify spending money on a player at this level who only has 1 goal in nearly 100 appearances, though he is still only 21 years old and has shown flashes of brilliance now and then when at Blyth. So he still has plenty of time to develop his finishing and contributions in the final third.

Ellis Taylor – RW/LW/LB

Having played 8 times for Sunderland U21’s this season, scoring 3 goals and getting 1 assist, the 20 year old Hartlepool native really needs to head back out on loan somewhere and prove himself in senior football if he’s to earn another pro deal this summer.

Capable of playing on either wing and left back, Ellis has played a handful of senior games in both the League Cup and the Papa John’s trophy – or whatever the fuck that’s called these days. He spent the first half of last season at Hartlepool but only made 4 appearances before having his loan ended early in January.

The lad has bags of technical ability and has some product in the final third of the pitch. He’s been highlighted in previous years at Sunderland as a hot prospect but doesn’t appear to be anywhere near the first team just yet. A loan this January will be essential to his development and his future, but it remains to be seen if Sunderland look to send him to another full-time side or let him prove himself at a team like ourselves.

Max Howells – RW/LW

A Stockton born lad with a Swedish family (what a combination that is btw) Max has been at Middlesborough’s academy for the last 6/7 years, developing into a speedy winger who can comfortably use both feet. A brilliant dribbler with an eye for picking our key passes, Max has scored twice for Boro’s U21’s this season in 9 games.

Capable of playing on both wings and up front, Max’s contract us up this summer, and logic would suggest he’ll likely need an opportunity out on loan somewhere to prove himself. He may be a bit undersized, but that never stopped the likes of Dan Maguire and Jarrett Rivers from developing into good players and opening up opportunities in full time football for themselves.

Luke James – RW/ST

An Amble lad who came through Hartlepool, Luke has certainly bounced around a fair bit throughout his career. Once considered a hot prospect who was linked with the likes of Newcastle United, Luke made a switch to Peterborough United in 2014 for a reported £500,000 and from that point onwards, it seems his career began to stall, largely due to injuries.

After several spells throughout the Football League and the Conference, Luke is now at South Shields having joined in the summer, playing 19 games while scoring 2 goals thus far. He may not be quite as pacey as he used to be, but his work rate is exceptional and possess enough technical ability to punish just about any full back he comes in contact with. Apart from Michael Liddle of course.

If Shields are set to cut their budget or even freshen up their squad with some new signings, Luke is someone they may be looking to move on – though it would likely just be a loan move.

Cedric Main – LW/ST

Given that York City have an abundance of cash to spend with their new owners and have already signed Billy Chadwick this January, there is a chance Ced doesn’t end up getting the chance he deserves with the Minstermen. They already have 9 recognised forwards on the books and with cash burning in Matt Uggla’s pocket, my gut says they won’t be able to resist the temptation to throw money about in attempt to get further away from the relegation zone.

If that happens and Ced is left without out in the cold, the questions then turns to what to do with him. Do they simply just let him go back out on loan or, do they try and sell him for some quick cash?

Harry Gardiner – ST

Another youngster who’s previously been considered a hot prospect at Sunderland, the 20-year-old Alnwick born striker will be looking to get some first-team football under his belt after netting 5 goals in 8 games for Sunderland’s U21’s this season. Harry did have a short spell at South Shields at the back end of last season but didn’t get a chance to play much football.

A seemingly natural finisher, Harry seems to posses all the technical ability needed to have a successful career at the professional level. However, his contract is up in the summer, so he needs a chance to prove it at a senior level sooner rather than later.