Despite the difficulties brought by the pandemic, there were a huge number of excellent additions made to their squads last summer by League One clubs.
The quality at the top end of League One this campaign has been phenomenal, 10 points currently separating the sides between 2nd and 12th. At the other end, only 9 are between those in 23rd and 13th.
Much of this is down to the excellent recruitment across the division, with teams at all stages of the league table having made shrewd signings over the summer period.
And with the January transfer window now heading into its busy period, it’s fair to say there will be a fair few more to come. So, here are five of my favourite League One signings so far this season.
Lewis Montsma – Lincoln City
It’d be tough to run this list without including someone from the (current) league leaders!
Lewis Montsma joined the Imps in the summer from FC Dordrecht – a side who narrowly avoided relegation in the Netherlands’ second tier last season – and has been a mainstay in Michael Appleton’s back line, starting and completing every single league game he has been available for so far.
The Imps have kept a clean sheet in 50% – 10 out of 20 – of the games the centre half has started, denoting his key role in the Imps’ rise to the League One summit.
Most impressive though – for a central defender! – Montsma has chipped in a ridiculous 8 goals in 23 games so far this season, giving him an unbelievable 53% shot conversion according to BBC Sport. Some stat that.
His imposing six-foot-three-inches has made him invaluable in both boxes for Appleton, and the Dutchman will surely continue to be a key cog in this title-chasing Imps side.
Jonson Clarke-Harris – Peterborough United
Posh were forced to fork out a huge amount on Jonson Clarke-Harris – but it seems to have been a very much worthwhile investment.
After banging in 24 goals in 40 appearances for Bristol Rovers, Clarke-Harris was chosen as the successor to Ivan Toney upon his Brentford departure – and he’s certainly lived up to that title, hitting 13 goals in 20 outings so far this season.
Those goals included a hat-trick against Rochdale back in December and a four-game goal streak back in late October, all contributing towards key Posh victories as they look to finally escape League One at the 1546th attempt.
His goal against MK Dons at the weekend showed his instinct in the box, comfortably shaking off both veteran Dean Lewington and former Manchester United man Regan Poole to latch home from a Joe Ward pass.
Back in August, I said on this blog that Clarke-Harris would be top scorer in League One this season – and it looks as though (for once) I may have got something right!
Scott Fraser – MK Dons
After a range of very questionable – and ultimately failed – transfers under former manager Paul Tisdale, it’s fair to say Russell Martin’s recruitment has been far better for MK – and midfield star Scott Fraser is the pinnacle of this improvement.
Fraser, who came through the academy at Dundee United before moving south to join Burton Albion in 2018, shocked a number of high-end League One and Championship clubs in the summer by choosing MK over them after his contract expired at the Pirelli Stadium.
And across all competitions this season, the Scotsman has knocked up 11 goal contributions (7G + 4A), 9 of those coming in the league.
What’s better, it appears Fraser very much buys into Martin’s MK Dons project long-term and could well stick around for next season:
“I enjoy every game we play… I take it as a compliment, the amount of surprise there was when I signed here, but I signed here because I trust the manager massively. I trust my teammates, I trust how we wanna play.”Fraser speaking to MKDons.com after the 1-0 victory over Charlton Athletic in November
A shrewd bit of business by Russ, who is beginning to build himself a reputation as a demon in the transfer market.
Stephen Humphrys – Rochdale
Stephen Humphrys may have been ruled out for a number of months with a nasty injury at the start of the season – but since his return, the striker has been in red hot form.
The former Southend United man – Oldham born, and a trainee at Bury prior to joining Fulham – had been courted by a number of League One clubs in the summer, but chose to make the move to Spotland to be closer to home.
Almost immediately after joining up with Dale, though, the striker suffered a difficult knee injury – but not as serious as originally thought, thankfully.
Since returning from injury, the forward has netted six goals and provided three assists in ten games – an incredible rate. Four of those contributions have come in the past two games as Dale saw out eventful 4-4 and 3-3 draws against Charlton and Wigan respectively.
Humphrys comes with a clear pedigree having been part of the youth system at Fulham, and will hope to kick on either further now to help Dale away from a relegation dogfight.
Cameron Jerome – MK Dons
Certainly on this list as a ‘value’ signing – Cam Jerome is another excellent example of Russ Martin’s pull in the transfer market and what he could achieve at MK over the coming years.
The striker arrived on a free from Turkish side Göztepe SK after returning to the UK in September, and his wages are reportedly very modest considering his vast experience – the former Birmingham City man simply having wanted to play football under one of his best friends in Russ.
The Dons had looked completely shot of life in their opening games – this, of course, largely down to the summer departure of 20-goal man Rhys Healey – but Jerome’s arrival at the club has not just provided them with 9 goals, but also a complete mentality boost.
Even at 34, the former Norwich City man shows himself to be one of the most agile and athletic players in the league, constantly giving defenders almost ten years his younger a nightmare with a quick turn of pace and incredible stamina throughout the 90-minute period.
Most importantly, though, Jerome’s character within the dressing room has been huge for a Dons side littered with young, talented players. His unrivalled experience comes across so well within interviews, and it’s clear to see the impact he has had at MK1.
Martin’s side still find themselves lingering probably slightly too close to the bottom end of the table for now, but Jerome’s goals – and those of Scott Fraser! – have been vital in keeping them afloat.
But are there any you would add to this list? Any signings your club has made that stand out, regardless of which division?
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