After conceding 99 goals across all competitions last season, Swindon Town look set for a defensive rebuild in the transfer market this summer.

Last season was a nightmare from start to finish for Swindon defensively, only four times has the club conceded more goals across all competitions in a single campaign, and never whilst playing at this level.

Most of the core characters from that defensive unit have moved on, as Frazer Blake-Tracy, Tom Brewitt, and Conor McCarthy have all departed after the end of the season.

Mark Kennedy and Jamie Russell have both indicated that a back three remains the primary plan (although with the adaptability to change shape) and with just three centre-backs in the squad, additions will need to be made in that department. Udoka Godwin-Malife, Harrison Minturn, and Pharrell Johnson are the only other centre-backs currently in the squad.

Playing in a back three means that two distinct types of defenders will be required, a dominant centre-back, the like of which was never recruited last summer, is an absolute must as Kennedy looks to bring some of the defensive solidity he had at Lincoln City. That was largely based on the combative strengths of Paudie O’Connor and Adam Jackson. The other type will be someone capable of playing as an outside centre-back, requiring more athleticism to cover into the flanks.

At Lincoln, Kennedy had two more defensive players in his back three who would sit in, with Joe Walsh or Timothy Eyoma as a more adventurous outside defender to add thrust going forward, a role likely to be filled by Godwin-Malife. So, the other defensive options will be defenders first and preferably experienced to add to Ollie Clarke.

For a central defender, one option could be Barrow’s George Ray. The 30-year-old left after two seasons in Cumbria but was one of League Two’s best duel winners last season. His 195 aerial duels won (at a success rate of 70.2 per cent) ranked in the 95th percentile amongst defenders and his 250 duels won (at a 67.9 per cent success rate) ranked in the 90th percentile. At six-foot-four, very little went without his influence at Barrow last season. He was not asked to be as much of a ballplayer as is likely at Swindon, but first things first, a head-it, kick-it man needs to be sought out.

Another slightly more attainable option could be Wrexham’s Jordan Tunnicliffe, who despite limited playing time was a force to be reckoned with in North Wales. He was also winning his duels at a 72 per cent rate and aerial duels at 72.2 per cent when called upon by Phil Parkinson. He was also slightly more comfortable with the ball at his feet despite often being asked to play long.

As an outside centre-back, one of Godwin-Malife’s former teammates Dom Bernard could be a strong option. He is capable with both feet, giving him the flexibility to play on both sides and ranked in the 93rd percentile for passes completed, with an 80 per cent completion rate. He was equally accurate playing longer, ranking in the 76th percentile for long-ball accuracy. He also did not shy away from the dirty work, ranking in the 83rd percentile for aerial duels won and 77th for duels.

With Godwin-Malife almost certain to play on the right, a predominantly left-footed option could signal a return for Liam Ridehalgh. He can play at either left-back or in the middle and would provide a more defensively sound option than Bernard, although less strong on the ball. He ranked in the 83rd percentile for duels won percentage last season and 86th for aerial duels won. He would fulfil the O’Connor role nicely by being comfortable defending out wide, but still being a defence-first player.

At wing-back, the signing of Rosaire Longelo combined with Williams Kokolo and Tariq Uwakwe already playing that position means Town are probably catered for on the left. The bigger question will be which of Kokolo and Uwakwe moves on as it seems unlikely all three would be required.

On the right, Tunmise Sobowale has arrived to add to Joel McGregor and whilst both are exciting prospects, neither is a proven commodity quite yet and it would not preclude me from adding if the right player became available.

One such individual would be Joel Senior after he turned down an extension at Morecambe. Sobowale and Longelo show that Russell is looking for a wing-back who can provide the width, carry the ball up the pitch, and have an impact in the final third. Those two did that first part well but are yet to develop a track record for assists and goals, Senior has that.

In a difficult season at The Mazuma Stadium, the 24-year-old demonstrated himself to be one of the best attacking full-backs in the division. His ball carrying was very strong, averaging 10 carries per 90 for an average distance of 12.86 metres, according to Opta. However, he had 18 total chance creating carries, compared to 16 for Longelo and one for Sobowale. Only five defenders created more big chances than Senior and only seven had more key passes. Quite simply, he would be a very difficult player to pass up even in an area where Town do have options and it could provide the opportunity for McGregor to go and play more regular football elsewhere.