With Ryan Lowe confirmed as the new boss, we cast our eye over the free agents available for Plymouth Argyle to pick up during this 2019 summer transfer window.

Jay O’Shea

Club: Bury
Status: Unknown
Age: 30
Appearances: 50
Goals: 16
Assists: 7

O’Shea has certainly enjoyed a well-travelled career with 10 clubs so far, predominantly in Leagues One and Two. He first turned out for Bray and then Galway United in Ireland, and he was then picked up by then Premier League side Birmingham City in 2009 as a 20-year-old.

After making just one appearance in two years, and with unsuccessful loan spells at Middlesbrough, Stevenage and Port Vale, he moved to League One side MK Dons. Despite an encouraging first season, he fell out of favour, later joining Chesterfield in the most productive stage of his career, combining 72 goals and assists (42G, 30A) in 204 league games, winning the League Two title in the process.

Following relegation in 2017, Chesterfield opted to release O’Shea who then remained in League One with Bury. Featuring just 27 times, registering six goals and assists, Bury were relegated amongst off the field financial turmoil. With Lowe now permanent manager, the Irishman became an integral part of the side that would see promotion the next season, contributing 21 goals and assists to Bury’s table-topping 82 goals as they went up in second place.

Unlike the outgoing Graham Carey, O’Shea doesn’t possess the pace of his fellow Irishman. However, at 6ft he is useful in the air and has the strength to play as a basic central midfielder if required. Lowe’s 3-1-4-2 formation allows his attackers to have fewer defensive responsibilities which allows someone of O’Shea’s quality to sit up the pitch and dictate play going forward.

 

Jamie Devitt

Club: Carlisle United
Status: Contract Offer Declined
Age: 28
Appearances: 38
Goals: 12
Assists: 8

Already described as an ‘unbelievably good player’ by new manager Ryan Lowe in one of his first interviews as Plymouth Argyle manager, the 28-year-old looks to be firmly on the radar this summer after rejecting a new contract at fellow League Two side Carlisle.

Starting his career at Hull City, the Irishman would go on to have seven loans spells, with his destinations including the likes of Rotherham and Bradford. He finally joining Chesterfield in 2013 where he would gain promotion in his first season. Having spent time on-loan at fellow League Two side Morecambe, he joined permanently, going on to make nearly 100 appearances in all competitions. Carlisle acquired his services in 2016 as they looked to bounce back to League One at the third attempt. They eventually lost in the Play-Off semi-final to Exeter City.

Despite a slow start to life at Carlisle, Devitt really came into his own in his second season, developing a goalscoring prowess finishing as top scorer with 11 goals and then following up the 2018/19 campaign with the same tally in the league as well as an impressive eight assists. This contributed to 28% of Carlisle’s overall goal tally.

Like the outgoing Graham Carey, Devitt is best utilised as a central-attacking midfielder, but can also play on either flank. During the latter stages of the season, the former Grimsby man was also used as a centre forward. Whilst this heavily limited his creative abilities, he registered goals twice in five games which provides another option.

 

Danny Mayor

Club: Bury
Status: Unknown
Age: 28
Appearances: 44
Goals: 12
Assists: 12

Like Devitt, Mayor is another who has been heavily linked with Argyle this summer and could be persuaded to team up with former manager Lowe. With 235 appearances under his belt, it’s safe to say he’s something of a fan favourite at Gigg Lane, posting a very respectable 78 goals and assists (36G, 42A). Like potential predecessor Graham Carey, Mayor is well known for liking a long-distance strike.

Starting his career at Preston, the 28-year-old had a loan spell before joining Sheffield Wednesday. After making nine appearances he was then shipped out to Tranmere and finally Bury, where five goals and nine assists persuaded them to buy the Englishman for an undisclosed fee.

In an advanced midfield role, Mayor and Jay O’Shea complimented each other perfectly with their very similar playing styles last season. They would often interchange to cause opposition sides problems. Both liked to have the ball at their feet and take on players, often looking for the selfless pass to another player. This greatly attributed to forward Nicky Maynard’s 20 league goal tally last season. Lowe will know the pair well and how suited they are to his formation.

 

Jack Payne

Club:  Huddersfield Town
Status: Released
Age: 24
Appearances: 47 (On loan at Bradford)
Goals: 9
Assists: 7

Despite successful loan spells with Southend, Oxford and Bradford, Payne has never quite managed to secure a move to a side any higher than lower League One aside from a failed spell at Blackburn in the 2017/18 season. Despite Huddersfield Town’s inevitable relegation from the Premier League, the 24-year-old has been released.

Whilst potentially more unrealistic than most other options, the Englishman had a positive season with also relegated Bradford City, scoring and assisting a combined 16 goals in a side who scored the second fewest goals in League One overall (49). Payne has previous success in League Two, gaining promotion in the 2014/15 season with his nine goals in the next campaign earning him a bit part role as Huddersfield gained promotion to the Premier League with him featuring 23 times in the process.

At 5ft 5in, he’s probably a bit too lightweight and nimble to feature in Ryan Lowe’s preferred 3-1-4-2 formation but should he be tempted to move down to Devon it could well prove to be a fruitful signing should his speed and agility be utilised in the correct way.

 

Jose Baxter

Club: Oldham Athletic
Status: Released
Age: 27
Appearances: 34
Goals: 4
Assists: 2

Baxter became the youngest first-team player in Everton history when he made his debut in 2008, aged 16 years and 191 days. Unfortunately, the Englishman would only go on to play a total of 352 minutes for his boyhood club over 15 appearances.

After rejecting a new contract, he joined then League One side Oldham where he would go on to score an impressive 15 goals in 43 appearances. With lots of interest he joined Sheffield United who themselves were gunning for promotion. He went on to register 40 goals and assists in 120 appearances for the Blades but his time at Bramall Lane was riddled in controversy which saw Baxter twice suspended for drugs offences.

Despite his poor spell last season with Oldham in League Two and previous off the field issues, there is clearly a player with potential in Baxter who needs the right surroundings in order to thrive. It’s well documented that over the years that struggling players have salvaged their careers at Home Park with the likes of Reuben Reid, Lewis Alessandra, Jake Jervis and Sonny Bradley obvious examples. Like Devitt he is also capable of playing in a forward role and despite his small frame at 5ft 9in he is surprisingly strong on the ball.

 

Billy Clarke

Club: Bradford City
Status: Released
Age: 31
Appearances: 18
Goals: 1
Assists: 2

After spells with Ipswich and Darlington amongst others, Clarke burst onto the scene in following a move to newly promoted Crawley Town in League Two for the 2012/13 season. The Englishman went on to total 31 goals and assists in 90 appearances before earning a move to League One side Bradford. His first season saw him register a very impressive 19 goals and assists as the Bantams narrowly missed out on a play-off spot and reached the FA Cup quarter-finals.

A failed spell at Charlton saw Clarke rejoin City for the 2018/19 season. However, a cruciate ligament injury hampered his campaign and limited him to just 14 league appearances. He registered a goal and assist in his final game of the season in a 3-2 win over Scunthorpe with Bradford’s fate already sealed.

Whilst his last two seasons have been way below his usual standard, Billy Clarke could well thrive in League Two. Though whilst the quality clearly there, Lowe may well be weary of handing a contract to a player in such an important position with injury problems, especially given Argyle’s injury record under his predecessor. However, should he remain fit, he could be a useful addition. The former Brentford man boasts fantastic spatial awareness and became something of a poacher during his first spell at Bradford.

 

Ben Gladwin

Club: Blackburn Rovers
Status: Released
Age: 27
Appearances: 0
Goals: 0
Assists: 0

The 27-year-old hasn’t played a league game since playing against Argyle for Blackburn in a 1-1 draw in 2017 which saw Mike Cooper make his debut for the Pilgrims. However, it hasn’t been a lack of quality that’s to blame for his lack of playing time – it has been down to injury. Typically, after so long out of the game, Gladwin looks likely to take the drop down to League One or Two in order to prove his fitness and regain the form that saw QPR buy him from Swindon in 2015.

Playing for Swindon in League One, the then 22-year-old recorded 16 goals and assists (8G, 8A) and helped them to fourth in the league. Despite scoring two goals to take them to Wembley in the play-offs, they eventually lost 4-0 to Preston in the final. During his total time at the County Ground, he recorded 29 goals and assists (15G, 14A) in 88 appearances.

With a more physical element to his game, Gladwin can also play as a central midfielder, holding up the ball in the middle of the park before picking out a pass. This would prove to be a key attribute in a physical division such as League Two. With much to prove and an ambition to move up the leagues like Argyle, the club and Gladwin could well prove to be a good match for each other.

 

Tony Andreu

Club: Coventry City
Status: Released
Age: 31
Appearances: 30 (12 for Coventry, 18 for Hamilton)
Goals: 2 (1 Coventry, 1 Hamilton)
Assists: 4 (1 Coventry, 3 Hamilton)

A very well-worn road for Argyle in recent years has been a habit of signing players with Scottish connections. Former Dundee United and Hamilton man Tony Andreu could potentially be another. The 31-year-old spent the second half of last season on loan with former club Hamilton after falling out of favour at League One side Coventry.

A journeyman career has seen Andreu play in Switzerland, France, Scotland and also England for eight different clubs. Scotland has certainly been where the former Monaco man has seen the most joy, registering 43 goals and assists over two spells as well as 23 in 42 during a loan spell with Dundee United in the 2016-17 season.

In recent seasons the Frenchman has lost a some of his pace and has often been utilised as a central midfielder as opposed to playing in an advanced role. This allows him to spray balls across the middle of the park as opposed to making darting runs like he used to. Dropping a level and playing in an attacking formation more suited to his strengths could see him potentially become an effective signing, even if not perhaps as a first choice.

 

Ben Reeves

Club: Charlton Athletic
Status: Released
Age: 27
Appearances: 32
Goals: 4
Assists: 3

Despite featuring for high-flying Charlton last season as they gained promotion back to the Championship, Reeves was only a bit part player. He started just 22 league games, very similar to his first campaign at The Valley, but did contribute a valuable four goals and three assists. This was largely down to Charlton’s plethora of attacking midfield talent with the likes of Joe Aribo, Tariqe Fosu and Jonny Williams also fighting for a spot.

Having failed to make the cut at Southampton as a youngster, Reeves joined League One side MK Dons, via loan spells at Dagenham and Southend. This would prove to be the most successful part of his career to date, registering 57 goals and assists (32G, 25A) in 135 appearances, including helping the Dons reach the Championship for the first time in their history in the 2014/15 campaign. Like Graham Carey, Reeves is a set-piece specialist and also has an eye for goal from long range.

A slightly more conservative player than some others on this list, Reeves can also be deployed as a regular central midfielder. He was 16 times for MK, scoring three and assisting a further three in those appearances. Due to a lack of strength, however, he would be unlikely to play such a position in Lowe’s system with someone like Antoni Sarcevic more suited to such a role as more of a ball-winning midfielder. Reeves is much more effective with the ball at his feet, making surging runs into the final third through the centre and to the right.

 

Stefan Scougall

Club: Carlisle United
Status: Contract Offered
Age: 26
Appearances:21 (6 for St Johnstone, 15 for Carlisle)
Goals: 2 (1 St Johnstone, 1 Carlisle)
Assists: 0

Mainly utilised in cup competitions by former club St. Johnstone, Scougall joined League Two side Carlisle in January. The Scot went on to make 15 appearances, but the Cumbrians’ season fizzled out as they missed out on the play-offs.

His record of just two goals and no assists during this season make for dreary reading compared to many others on this list, and doesn’t exactly inspire confidence. The 26-year-old was switched about many times and found himself unable to get settled in a regular position. He went from attacking midfielder, to playing on either wing, and rarely featured in the same position in consecutive weeks. This clearly hindered progress.

His most prolific spell came with Livingston between 2010-14 with 23 goals and assists in 84 appearances, but he has since failed to replicate this form. With Ruben Lameiras also looking likely to leave Home Park this summer, it’s likely that Lowe will look to bring in more than just one attacking midfielder to accommodate his 3-1-4-2 formation. Whilst Scougall wouldn’t be a guaranteed starter, the former Sheffield United man would certainly provide more than adequate back-up.

 


Top 10: Free Agents – Central Midfielders

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