SWINDON Town will now target a new number nine to replace Nile Ranger after making their first signing of the January transfer window.
The Robins yesterday completed the capture of former Brighton & Hove Albion striker George Barker on an 18-month contract, as predicted yesterday by the Advertiser.
Town will pay an undisclosed fee to Brighton for Barker’s services and the striker is due to go straight into manager Mark Cooper’s matchday squad for the visit of Peterborough United in League One on Saturday.
Barker came through Brighton’s youth development programme before signing his first professional deal with the Sussex club in 2010.
After loan stints at Lewes and Barnet, where he made his Football League debut in December 2012, Barker finally made his Brighton bow at Barnsley in March.
He made three appearances in total last term and came off the bench during the Seagulls’ 3-1 home defeat to Nottingham Forest in the Championship earlier this time aroundbefore being shipped out on loan to Newport.
Barker made just two appearances during his time at Rodney Parade, however, both in goalless draws against Cheltenham Town and Oxford United, before returning to the Amex Stadium.
Brighton’s head of football operations David Burke said the move was right for Barker.
“George has worked hard and made good progress with the club, but his opportunities here are limited, so this represents a chance for him to progress his career at a good club,” he told www.seagulls.co.uk.
“On behalf of the Albion, I'd like to thank him for his time at the club and wish him well with Swindon and in his future career.”
Barker got his Swindon career off to a good start by scoring in Town’s 3-2 defeat to Birmingham City in a development XI fixture yesterday.
Yaser Kasim scored the Robins’ other goal as Cooper tried two entirely different XIs in either half.
The five-foot, eight-inch frontman - recommended to the Swindon boss by assistant coach Luke Williams - is not the player Cooper and chairman Lee Power have earmarked to fill the boots of enigmatic forward Ranger, who is expected to leave the County Ground this week.
A meeting between the player, his agent, the club and the PFA has yet to take place to finalise the terms of Ranger’s departure. Swindon do not expect to hand any severance pay to the former Newcastle hitman when he leaves SN1.
The Advertiser understands the respective parties have scheduled a meeting for Thursday, though it is unclear whether all the relevant individuals will be present.
While that situation is resolved, Town are continuing in their search for a target man, with Power set to hold talks on Wednesday regarding another potential transfer.
Though Swindon have been busy in the transfer market, interest in their own players has been non-existent.
While Tottenham are expected to field approaches for Alex Pritchard from Wolves and Huddersfield this month none have yet been forthcoming, Leicester are unlikely to act on their long-term interest in Nathan Thompson in this transfer window, Bournemouth are no longer monitoring Wes Foderingham and no bids have been fielded for either Massimo Luongo or Yaser Kasim.