Bargain bin: The freebies that should be on Championship shopping lists

It'™s every Championship manager'™s favourite time of the year.

Forget Christmas, birthdays and Trevor Benjamin's annual CV run, for the likes of Mick McCarthy, Nigel Clough & Co. nothing beats the sweet satisfaction of sifting through the rubble to find a freebie - much like Scrapheap Challenge without Dick Strawbridge'™s moustache.

By now clubs will have examined the Premier League'™s retained list, released officially a fortnight ago, but what remains is sure to tempt the rest. Joe Brewin runs the rule over the shrewd Bosmans that could make all the difference. 

Mark Schwarzer
At 40 years old they say his life has only just begun - but it probably won'™t feel that way for the goalkeeper who has played in England since 1996. The arrival of Maarten Stekelenburg, 10 years Schwarzer'™s junior, put paid to the Australia international'™s five-year spell at Fulham.

It doesn'™t feel like so long ago when the Socceroos shot-stopper was persistently linked with a move to Arsenal (two years ago, in fact) and despite his advancing years he is surely the cream of this cast-aside crop.

Unsurprisingly Schwarzer has admitted offers are on the table but refused to discuss his future before Australia'™s World Cup qualification was decided. It is now though, and Championship teams light of a No 1 should be making their move.

Lee Camp
For lower-ranking sides, meanwhile, there'™s always Nottingham Forest'™s former first choice.

After months of dead-end contract negotiations the Derby-born goalkeeper left the City Ground in January before signing a short-term deal at Norwich. But that'™s all it was ever going to be. Three appearances and a fleeting spell at Carrow Road now over, the Northern Ireland international is back on the market. 

Wage demands have already scuppered a move to Ipswich according to reports, but it'™s unlikely Camp will find too many suitors keen to pay over the odds. At 28 there are still plenty of miles left on the clock, however, and his notable experience at this level makes him worth the pursuit.

Matthew Upson
Brighton haven'™t tied him down yet after a successful loan spell at the Amex Stadium last season but the Seagulls could be ready to swoop.

Light-at-the-back Leeds are also mooting a move for the former Arsenal, West Ham and Birmingham man - and can you blame them? The 34-year-old'™s pedigree, with a wealth of Premier League experience and 21 England caps, is unquestionable.

But after playing just once for Stoke in the Premier League last season his release was inevitable. Upson'™s best days are long gone but in the Championship it'™s not necessarily legs that take your far (though they are pretty useful). 

Upson'™s 19 appearances for promotion-chasing Brighton last season were proof enough that the seasoned campaigner has plenty left to offer.

Danny Simpson
It'™s not been the best 2013 for this former Manchester United academy product. Dumped by Newcastle after almost four years at St James'™ Park, the 26-year-old was then chopped by celebrity girlfriend Tulisa Contostavlos last month (Blissfully unaware of who she is? FFT tip: keep it that way). 

If that'™s not enough, back in February poor Danny boy was floored in a Manchester brawl. Give the lad a break, eh?

Well, help from Uncle Harry is on at hand. QPR look set to land the right-back (well, he has a pulse after all) to provide competition for twice Champions League winner Jose Bosingwa. But if that doesn'™t materialise he won'™t be short of other offers.

Chris Baird
Style, pace, breathtaking technical abilities and grace - sadly none of the attributes possessed by 31-year-old Baird. But what a terrific little signing the Fulham utility man would make for a Championship side. Though a centre-back by trade, the Northern Ireland international converted to central midfield with success last season. Martin Jol was certainly not afraid to use his go-to guy when times were tough. 

Finding dependable and consistent characters provides the platform for a crack at the big time - it'™s no surprise that five of last season'™s Championship top six boasted the best defensive records - and it'™s those traits that really matter for Baird.

His signing wouldn'™t pull up trees, nor would it be the difference between promotion and another year in the abyss. But the former Southampton man is a potential dream for second-tier chiefs in need of a steady stopper.

Dean Whitehead
He'™d been a Stoke regular for four seasons, but the Potters'™ so-called new direction meant the end of the road for Whitehead at the Britannia Stadium.

The loyal midfield enforcer has spent a minimum of four seasons at each of his three professional clubs since breaking through at local side Abingdon Town. And for five of the last seven years has been able to call himself a top-flight mainstay.

So what gives? Ask your average football fan about the tough-tackling 31-year-old and most likely you'™ll be greeted with retorts about limited ability and the size of his cranium.

He'™ll probably never win over the masses but Whitehead would be an ideal capture for sides hungry for experience but restricted by Financial Fair Play. You wouldn'™t be getting goals for your money, but a seasoned professional ideally suited to these rough-and-tumble realities.

Thomas Hitzlsperger
The man with the iron foot (and known only for that, let'™s be honest) is a free agent after Everton chose not to extend his short-term deal at Goodison Park.

Der Hammer has accrued over half a ton of caps for Germany but his powers appear to be on the wane after making only four league starts for the Toffees last season.

Still, at 31 the former Aston Villa, Lazio and Stuttgart midfielder could be quite the coup for Championship clubs in need of fixing up a faltering engine room. After all, his experience at the top end of Europe can't be questioned.

Whether Hitzlsperger'™s future still lies at a higher level remains to be seen but if he fancies a fourth stab at England he could surely do worse than an ambitious promotion-pusher who will give him the first-team football he desires.

The big issue may be a distinct lack of action over the last three seasons - amounting to just 24 league appearances. On that evidence he can'™t afford to be too picky anymore.

DJ Campbell
Now looking for his ninth League club in as many seasons, Campbell will almost certainly be at the centre of a Championship tug-of-war this summer.

High wages and mixed form are the main reasons for his unsettled history but now reality is likely to kick in after his release from relegated QPR. He'™s had his crack at the Premier League with Birmingham, Blackpool and then briefly Rangers, but those days are surely over now.

That said, Campbell is a proven goalscorer at this level and they don'™t come around too often on free transfers. Wages may be a stumbling block but after 10 goals in 17 games for Ipswich last season you would assume he won't want for interested parties.

Unsurprisingly the Tractor Boys are reportedly keen on tying him down for good, as are Middlesbrough and Sheffield Wednesday. Campbell is a strong loanee when trying to impress, granted, but can this former Hayes & Yeading hero finally settle at a permanent home?

Simeon Jackson
He bagged the goal that sent Norwich to the Premier League - but just five starts in the top flight meant the Canada international'™s season didn'™t quite go to plan.

But after leaping from League One to the top flight in just over three years it'™s been quite a journey for the Jamaica-born hotshot.

The 26-year-old, known for his speed and employed on the wing by his country, might not be the most prolific front man but as a support striker there won'™t be too many better in the Championship next season. Last time out he netted 13 goals to help the Canaries clamber out of the second tier, finishing only behind Grant Holt in the club's scoring charts.

You don'™t get much for your money these days but Jackson could be one of the most astute captures of the transfer window.


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