Goalkeeper has been a problem position at Elland Road for quite some time, and it’s important that Marcelo Bielsa looks to bring in a quality new first-choice shot-stopper this month.
The 22-year-old Bailey Peacock-Farrell has done a solid enough job between the sticks, but his inexperience has led to some costly errors. As such, the pressure is on Leeds’s director of football, Victor Orta, to recruit an upgrade – even if only short term.
Adding a creative winger to the mix also makes sense. The departure of Samuel Saiz means the Whites now lack cover for star men Pablo Hernandez and Ezgjan Alioski.
Only one Championship outfit (interestingly, Aston Villa) has leaked more goals on home turf than the Canaries, so Daniel Farke will surely look to tighten up at the back.
A new central defender to play alongside Timm Klose may help, but so too would a defensive specialist to sit in front of the back four, adding a layer of much-needed protection.
Norwich score plenty, but acquiring a winger with an eye for goal may ease the strain on leading scorer Teemu Pukki. Turkey international Yusuf Yazici, 21, has been heavily linked. The pony-tailed wideman has been a revelation for Trabzonspor.
3. Sheffield United
If the Blades can land a suitable partner for leading scorer Billy Sharp, they could make a surprising push for an automatic promotion place.
Right now there’s too much responsibility on the 32-year-old, but if the right targetman arrives to play alongside him – or to give Sharp the occasional rest – Chris Wilder’s side will surely reap the benefits.
Whispers about bringing in Cardiff’s Gary Madine haven’t gone down particularly well with Blades fans, however, who feel their club should set their sights a little higher.
Wilder may also consider signing a right-wing-back. Kieron Freeman and George Baldock have both performed OK in that role, but if an opportunity to enhance the position arises, United should take it.
4. West Brom
As a centre-back of some distinction for the Baggies, Darren Moore knows exactly the area he needs to strength – the heart of his defence.
The West Brom boss has flitted between three and four at the back this term, and much of that is down to his search for the right formula defensively.
Ahmed Hegazi, Craig Dawson and Kyle Bartley have failed to show enough consistency, so the time has come to bring in a new, towering central defender.
There may be trouble ahead, too: If Leicester decide to recall their brilliant loanee Harvey Barnes – which seems likely, at this point – then Albion will also be in the market for a skilful creator.
Just four Championship teams have scored fewer goals than Boro, so this January it’s essential that Tony Pulis recruits a striker who can hit the ground running.
Britt Assombalonga and Jordan Hugill are decent frontmen, but the Riverside side still require new impetus at the top of the pitch after allowing Martin Braithwaite to join Leganes on loan.
Dutch winger Rajiv van la Parra, who has joined from Huddersfield Town, will add valuable pace and dynamism out wide, so all that’s needed now is a natural goalscorer. League One stars Josh Maja (Sunderland) and Jamal Lowe (Portsmouth) are two players who have been heavily linked.
Frank Lampard is scrambling around for centre-back cover, and it’s a wise move from the Rams’ gaffer. Curtis Davies and Craig Forsyth are out for the season, and Alex Pearce has joined Millwall on loan, which leaves just Richard Keogh and Fikayo Tomori as his recognised centre-halves.
The Rams might also benefit from a touch more dynamism in central midfield as they aim to secure another play-off finish this time out. Acquiring the services of an energetic box-to-box player would complement the players Lampard already has at his disposal.
7. Nottingham Forest
Uncertainty over Aitor Karanka’s future might be a stumbling block when it comes to releasing funds this month, but if Forest’s owners are as ambitious as they say they are, you’d expect some new faces to arrive at the City Ground.
Forest fans are also keen on Pompey winger Jamal Lowe – who would be a terrific signing judging by his form this season – but the East Midlanders probably have more need for change at the back.
While each of Karanka’s back four has been perfectly satisfactory, none of the Forest rearguard stands out as Premier League material. Therefore, reinforcements at full-back and in central defence may be the order this month.
Huge net losses caused by overspending during the Harry Redknapp and Gianfranco Zola regimes could cost Birmingham a points deduction, and it has almost certainly put paid to manager Garry Monk’s hopes of adding to his squad in January.
With finances threadbare, don’t expect too many incomings at St Andrew’s. Instead, keeping hold of his star men will be the priority.
Talk of a loan move for Derby’s Ikechi Anya is interesting, though – the Blues could benefit from an injection of pace and creativity.
There are whispers that the Hoops will be placed under a transfer embargo this month, so free agents replacing outgoing players will be their only hope of freshening up Steve McLaren’s squad.
The QPR head coach would love to beef up his options at the back, especially at centre-back, but his hands appear to be tied. Promoting youngsters from the U23s looks more viable.
Stories suggesting that former winger Adel Taarabt will rejoin the club from Benfica have been quashed by chairman Tony Fernandes.
10. Aston Villa
Dean Smith has already addressed the most urgent issue on his list by signing a new goalkeeper. Croatia international Lovre Kalinic should be an improvement on the floundering Orjan Nyland.
Next, Villa need to recruit a top-class centre-back. They’ve muddled on this term by using various options, but until James Chester has a better regular partner, the Birmingham side will remain wobbly at the back.
The absence of a quality defensive midfielder doesn’t help, so signing a player who can hold the framework of Smith’s side together could help Villa’s array of forwards thrive.
But even one of those could leave: it goes without saying that 16-goal loanee Tammy Abraham must be replaced if Villa lose him this month.
11. Bristol City
A successful Christmas period has strengthened Lee Johnson’s arm with the Bristol City board, so it will be fascinating to see if they back their young boss with funds this month.
To stand any chance of gatecrashing the promotion party, the Robins need a little more attacking sparkle. They still haven’t replaced the guile and goal output of striker Bobby Reid, and with none of their attacking midfielders delivering consistent assists or end product, Johnson will be eyeing wingers in the transfer market too.
Bristol City are a solid outfit, but signing a centre-forward and a quality wide man would give Johnson two extra match winners. They’ll be needed to turn draws into essential victories.
Graham Potter has been too reliant on leading scorer Oli McBurnie, so it’s no surprise to see the Swans linked with Lawrence Shankland, a striker who has netted 28 times for Ayr United in 2018/19.
With limited funds available, the Welsh side will probably have to take a punt on somebody like him with star potential. Guaranteed goals are out of their budget.
The spine of Potter’s side is also a little weak compared to rival clubs in the top half of the division. A powerful midfield enforcer to screen the back four may be on the former Ostersund manager’s shopping list, and so too might a central defender – the Swans haven’t kept a Championship clean sheet since mid-November.
Having earned 21 points from their last 10 games, Hull are absolutely flying at the top of the form table. Nigel Adkins will want to kick on, and if he’s allowed to dip into the market this month, it may even inspire an unlikely promotion bid.
Out-of-favour Middlesbrough forward Ashley Fletcher is reportedly of interest, and stylistically he would be the right kind of partner for their speedy talisman Fraizer Campbell.
Hull’s engine room may benefit from a touch more power and creativity too, especially if star wide men Jarrod Bowen or Kamil Grosicki are sold to Premier League sides. The Tigers certainly need more goals from midfield.
Benik Afobe and Ryan Woods completed their permanent transfers to the Bet365 Stadium earlier this month, but to improve a poor campaign you suspect Stoke will seek to introduce fresh blood. Gary Rowett’s squad looks strong on paper, but they still lack a prolific goalscorer: Afobe, Saido Berahino and Peter Crouch are all enduring hit-and-miss seasons.
The purchase or loan of a natural finisher feels like an absolute must if the Potters are to climb the table – though equally, they have only created the 16th-most chances in the division this term, so clearly there are problems there.
In defence, can they rely on ageing centre-back Ashley Williams? The jury is out.
Keeping hold of main man Bradley Dack will be Tony Mowbray’s priority this month, but there are areas of his side that can be improved.
The full-back positions stand out most. Left-back Amari’i Bell and right-back Ryan Nyambe have performed fine, but the Blackburn chief may be keeping his eye on possible upgrades. Neither man offers a great deal in the final third.
Defensively, Rovers have been susceptible – they’ve shipped 32 goals from open play, which is one of the poorest returns in the Championship. Mowbray’s focus will be on his rearguard during January.
16. Sheffield Wednesday
The Owls have been woeful without the ball for most of the season, so it’s essential that they add better defensive specialists. Caretaker boss Lee Bullen has tightened them up, but Steve Bruce will have identified the Wednesday rearguard as their weak spot.
Signing a central midfielder with outstanding defensive attributes would be the right way to begin addressing their issues – that type of player would release the creative quality of Barry Bannan in more advanced areas.
At the back, none of Wednesday’s defenders can feel safe about their starting berths aside from left-back Matt Penney, so don’t be shocked if there are incomings in that department.
The Yorkshire club will also be in the market for a centre-forward. Steven Fletcher (4) and Atdhe Nuhiu (2) haven’t netted enough to be relied on.
Alex Neil has been busy this month, pulling off not one but two excellent signings from the lower reaches of the EFL.
Bringing in Jayden Stockley from Exeter was a clever move – he will add power in the air and confidence in front of goal – while Brad Potts, outstanding for Barnsley, is an attacking midfielder who chips in with goals and assists too.
The only remaining problem position is in goal. Declan Rudd and Chris Maxwell have both suffered rocky periods this term, which may prompt North End to look for a new custodian.
The goals have dried up for the Bees in recent weeks, so don’t be surprised if they look to bolster their firepower in January. Neal Maupay (15 goals) and Ollie Watkins (seven) are class acts, but nobody else in the Brentford line-up has chipped in with enough contributions. Their next-highest scorer has just three.
Part of the issue is a downturn in form and self-belief in midfield – a former strong suit of the side under Dean Smith. With inferior quality of passing and movement, their creative juices have drained.
With this in mind, Brentford will likely search for a technical midfielder who brings back the control they’ve lacked in the central third.
Neil Harris needs some younger legs up front. Millwall are compact, well organised and gritty under his astute management, but they do lack speed and spontaneity inside the final third.
Lee Gregory (seven goals) has been good, but Steve Morison, Tom Elliott and Tom Bradshaw have netted just four Championship goals between them. As a result, cash-strapped Harris will likely target the loan market to pluck a young forward with pace, skill and potential.
He is unlikely to bring in a new goalkeeper this month, but that position has been questioned at The New Den – neither Ben Amos nor Jordan Archer have convinced between the sticks.
Will Grigg’s not on fire – and nor is anybody else in the Wigan forward line. It’s a big problem.
Paul Cook will be disappointed that he’s managing the third-lowest-scoring team in the Championship; one that has managed just 25 goals in total. Last season they plundered 89 in the division below. Nick Powell and the aforementioned Grigg top Wigan’s goal charts with four apiece, so it will be surprising if another striker isn’t brought in.
Wigan’s wide men haven’t been delivering the right ammunition either – precious few assists have stemmed from the attacking midfielders who impress so much last term in League One.
There’s a lot to like about Paul Warne’s Millers, but in spite of their spirit, energy and togetherness, the team as a whole lacks unpredictability and guile.
Joe Newell, Will Vaulks and Richard Towell are doing their best to create openings, but Rotherham lack an attacking midfielder who can split opposition sides apart. Finding somebody who offers such talent and also fits into a hard-working team is the big challenge.
Knowing their limitations, Warne’s men like to play off their big centre-forward Michael Smith – a player who causes plenty of problems – but the absence of a Plan B is sometimes harmful to their prospects. Finding an alternative forward this month must be high on Rotherham’s wish list too.
Financial doom and gloom means it’s highly unlikely that Bolton will be investing in new players to stave off relegation. Considering the club has needed outside support to help fund player wages in recent months, outgoings are far more likely.
Personnel-wise, Phil Parkinson would be eyeing up signings with a tad more experience than his current central midfielders, and he would no doubt love a new striker too.
Josh Magennis’s FA Cup hat trick against Walsall may spark an upturn from his main man up front, but the Trotters need other goalscorers to chip in too.
New head coach Jose Manuel Gomes is determined to produce a brand of composed possession football, so you’d expect the Royals to be in the market for a string of more technically proficient players this month.
In central midfield they would benefit from a quality playmaker to knit this style together, but that’s not the only problem area he will be looking to resolve. Reading’s wide men have been far more miss than hit this term, so more class is needed down the flanks – and a left-back will surely be on the Portuguese’s shopping list as well.
Lacking balance, the Royals would be a better unit if they had a naturally left-footed defender operating down that side.
A fuming Paul Lambert recently claimed that he needed at least six new faces, so expect Portman Road to be a hive of activity during January.
Ipswich are way too short on Championship experience – too many of their players accustomed to League One or League Two are being asked to step up.
Anthony Pilkington is set to join from Cardiff, and his arrival may spark an influx of talent that knows the division better. The tough-tackling Grant Leadbitter and centre-forward Rudy Gestede are two other players being linked with the Blues.
Lambert needs to plug holes all over the pitch, but especially up front. It’s a head scratcher to work out how they’ll score enough goals to survive the drop.
Get the best features, fun and footballing frolics straight to your inbox every week.
Thank you for signing up to Four Four Two. You will receive a verification email shortly.
There was a problem. Please refresh the page and try again.