No money? No problem. Our team of EFL freebies

2 Aug

Jesus Gamez, Adebayo Akinfenwa and Nick Powell

Jesus Gamez (left), Adebayo Akinfenwa (centre) and Nick Powell make up the spine of our EFL free transfers XI

During every transfer window, fans of clubs up and down the country are forever urging their team to ‘splash the cash’ on new players.

But, while the likes of Newcastle United have been forking out millions of pounds since coming down from the Premier League, who could you have signed without having to pay another club a transfer fee this summer?

BBC Sport has created an XI made up entirely of players who have joined English Football League clubs on free transfers during the close season – and we think it ain’t half bad.

Goalkeeper – Michael McGovern

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Michael McGovern was Northern Ireland’s man of the match against Germany

Euro 2016 might be a tournament many will want to wipe from memory, but Northern Ireland goalkeeper Michael McGovern’s performance against Germany was unforgettable.

The 32-year-old, who had spent his entire professional career in Scotland, thrust himself onto the world stage with a man-of-the-match display in a 1-0 defeat that ensured his country reached the last 16 in their first ever Euros.

McGovern put himself right at the front of the proverbial shop window with his contract expiring at Hamilton Academical, even prompting former Germany keeper Jens Lehmann to joke that a move to the Bundesliga could be on the cards, asking: “Does he speak German?”

But McGovern decided against bratwurst and lederhosen for Championship side Norwich City in a move that reunited him with former Accies boss Alex Neil.

Defender – Jesus Gamez

Jesus Gamez and Cristiano Ronaldo<!–

Jesus Gamez played 16 times for Atletico Madrid last season

From the Champions League runners-up to the Championship on a free transfer. That’s the journey made by Spanish right-back Jesus Gamez this summer.

Gamez left Atletico Madrid after failing to appear in the Champions League final defeat by Real Madrid, only to pop up at Championship-bound Newcastle United, managed by former Real boss Rafa Benitez.

But can he do it on a cold Tuesday night in Barnsley?

Defender – Matt Kilgallon

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Matt Kilgallon (right) left Blackburn this summer after playing 11 times last season

If a centre-back was what your EFL club was looking for this summer, you could have done much worse than signing former Premier League and England Under-21 international Matt Kilgallon.

The 32-year-old’s career has been hampered by injuries in recent years, but League One side Bradford City have given him a one-year deal in their bid to win promotion.

Defender – Paul Konchesky

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Paul Konchesky’s final of two England caps came against Argentina in 2005

An FA Cup runner-up with West Ham and Europa League runner-up with Fulham in 2010, Paul Konchesky will bring a wealth of experience to League One Gillingham this season.

The former Liverpool and Leicester left-back spent the whole of last season on loan at QPR, making 34 appearances, before being released by the Premier League champions in the summer.

Midfielder – Nick Powell

Nick Powell<!–

Nick Powell never made a Premier League start for Manchester United

When an 18-year-old Nick Powell made a £3m move to Manchester United from Crewe Alexandra in 2012, then United manager Sir Alex Ferguson hoped he would “fill Paul Scholes’ boots”.

But four years down the line and just nine United first-team appearances later, Powell was released by the Old Trafford club this summer.

Powell has spent a fair chunk of the last few years out on loan, and Wigan, one of the clubs he had a temporary stint with, have given him a three-year contract following their promotion to the Championship last term.

Midfielder – Gary O’Neil

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Gary O’Neil has played in two of the last three Championship play-off finals, winning both

Solid. Reliable. Dependable. Three words that many fans of his former clubs would use to describe Gary O’Neil.

The 33-year-old, promoted to the Premier League an impressive four times, will be hoping to make it five with Bristol City after signing a two-year contract at Ashton Gate.

Midfielder – Steve Sidwell

Steve Sidwell<!–

Steve Sidwell (left) scored once in 19 appearances for Brighton last season

After a player with plenty of Premier League experience in the middle of the park? Look no further than Steve Sidwell.

The former Reading, Fulham and Stoke player has made 461 appearances in English football, and even played a solitary Champions League game for Chelsea against Valencia in 2007.

But, after being released by the Potters this summer he has returned to Brighton, where he finished last season on loan and who he helped to the play-off semi-final before defeat by Sheffield Wednesday.

Midfielder – Lloyd Dyer

Lloyd Dyer<!–

Lloyd Dyer scored the only goal for Leicester against Bolton in a victory that made them 2013-14 Championship champions

Unless you have been living under a rock in Timbuktu, you will know about Leicester’s rise from League One to Premier League champions.

But, in the same timeframe across the East Midlands, Burton Albion have risen from non-league to the Championship – and one player involved in the Foxes’ climb has joined the Brewers for their first ever season in the second tier.

Winger Lloyd Dyer won League One and the Championship during his six-year 267-game spell with Leicester and has moved to the near-7,000 capacity Pirelli Stadium after leaving Burnley, for whom he made three appearances on a short-term deal to help them win promotion to the top flight.

Forward – Adebayo Akinfenwa

Adebayo Akinfenwa<!–

Adebayo Akinfenwa is the world’s strongest player according to the ‘Fifa 16’ video game

One of English football’s most recognisable faces – and physiques – outside of the Premier League is another player your team could have snapped up on a free transfer this summer.

Adebayo Akinfenwa was released by AFC Wimbledon shortly after scoring a penalty in their fourth-tier play-off final victory over Plymouth in May, prompting him to ask managers to “hit me up on WhatsApp” in his post-match interview.

The football world was then rocked by news that Wycombe manager Gareth Ainsworth had the aforementioned mobile application, and 34-year-old Akinfenwa now has the chance to show Adams Park his infamous “Beast Mode” this season.

Forward – Steven Fletcher

Steven Fletcher<!–

Steven Fletcher scored two goals in 14 appearances on loan at Marseille last season

With 28 caps for Scotland and more than 100 career goals to his name, striker Steven Fletcher would be an astute signing for any EFL club – and probably some in the bottom half of the Premier League too.

Last season’s losing Championship play-off finalists Sheffield Wednesday are the ones to have courted the former Wolves and Sunderland forward on a free transfer, following his release by the Black Cats.

He finished 2015-16 on loan in France’s Ligue 1 with Marseille, so could he add the joie de vivre the Owls need to end their 16-year exile from the Premier League?

Forward – Marvin Sordell

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Marvin Sordell made three appearances for Great Britain at the Olympics

In 2012, Marvin Sordell was the name many England fans thought had the potential to lead the national side’s line after playing in the Olympics and hitting double figures two seasons in a row in the Championship as a youngster for Watford.

But his career stalled after a move to Bolton and he later spoke about the amount of pressure placed on young players in this country.

And, after leaving relegated Colchester United last season, he has since joined League One side Coventry City this summer.

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