What now for James Constable?

For a short and very intense period on Wednesday night it seemed like James Constable was slipping from our grasp. The known affections of Luton and Swindon earlier in the window were joined by a serious and sustained approach by Bournemouth.

Luton’s approach would have been relatively easy to rebuff, the money they needed to offer needed to be substantial, they wouldn’t have had much scope to up any offer to the point of it becoming a no-brainer. Plus, the player himself would have to swallow the fact he would be dropping out of the League again.

Swindon’s approach, if there was any seriousness in that at all, was always going to be difficult. Constable would have to be stupid or incredibly arrogant to want to make the move in the first place – and I don’t believe he’s either. The club would have to deal with the fact they’ve sold a key asset to a rival and stare down the resulting the PR calamity.

Bournemouth – not a promotion rival – was a different kettle of fish altogether. The reported fee of £225,000 would have comfortably have paid for 2-3 players. As much as Constable represents the soul of the club, we are far from a one man team. His loss – though a blow – can be mitigated by Craddock and perhaps Smalley (who looks out of position, currently).

Apparently the deal broke down over Constable’s personal terms. He’s a ‘proven’ goalscorer which carries a high tariff. But, he’s also had experience of going to league clubs and being side lined like he was at Shrewsbury. He’s 27, so his next move is crucial. At Bournemouth he would have to prove himself. If it doesn’t work, the trapdoor could open once again and he may well see himself back in the Conference. From which it could take him some years to return back to the League.
He would want to be compensated for taking such a risk with his career, particularly when you consider what he’d be leaving. The sort of club that would be able to comfortably afford Constable at such a high price is likely to be at the top end of League 1 or the Championship. And for any club in that bracket; Constable, as opposed to an available Premier League striker on the slide, would represent a massive risk.

Meanwhile, at Oxford he has a barrel load of good will and a nice long contract. His aspirations to play higher up the league could be fulfilled at the club. So does he stick or twist?

There is clearly a market for him, which is good for the club, because come Christmas they can sit tight and wait for the bidding to start. For us, of course, it means that the New Year transfer window could be an even more painful affair.

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Oxblogger is a blog about Oxford United.

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