SWINDON Town ended the January transfer window having signed six players and waved goodbye to five as the club aimed to build on a highly-encouraging first half of the season.

Adver Sport's Jonny Leighfield reflects on a tumultuous month for Ben Garner's men and assesses where the squad is at heading into the second half of the League Two season.

It all started so well. Town brought in a back-up goalkeeper in Emmanuel Idem on January 3 to play third fiddle behind Lewis Ward and Jojo Wollacott.

Idem's deal almost guaranteed no issues for Town between the sticks until the summer while allowing Steve Mildenhall to relax on match days, knowing he would no longer be called on as an emergency substitute at 43 years old.

Just a day after Idem's arrival, Alex Gilbert saw a disappointing loan spell cut short by Brentford, and Jake O'Brien signed on loan from Crystal Palace with the idea that he would strengthen a fragile back-line in terms of numbers.

So far, so good as Town began the tidy up of their efficient squad.

Garner said he felt something was amiss in terms of Romoney Crichlow returning to parent club, Huddersfield Town a few weeks before it eventually turned out to be true - hence he rarely played the centre-back around Christmas.

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With that in mind, I think O'Brien for Crichlow certainly does not make Swindon any worse off in terms of ability, and actually adds a different dimension - especially in terms of attacking set-pieces. O'Brien has got his head to a Reed delivery a few times already, so it seems like only a matter of time until he plants one into the net. With the ball, O'Brien is equally capable, if not more so.

Looking at other like-for-like replacements, losing Gilbert and bringing in Aston Villa's Louie Barry could turn out to be the upgrade of the season if the forward produces displays akin to his international form as opposed to an underwhelming few months at Ipswich Town.

The midway point of the month kicked off a frustrating fortnight for Town where Crichlow, Kaine Kesler-Hayden, and Tyreece Simpson were all called back to their parent clubs, never to return.

The question was put to Garner about whether he'd lost trust in loan clubs after having promises revoked when season-long loans who were said to be staying left suddenly. The Town boss very diplomatically said he hadn't and that's the way the cookie crumbles in football, but I think he's got every right to feel a couple of teams or individuals have stabbed Swindon in the back during this window.

In my view, players should not be allowed to play for anyone else other than their parent club if they are re-called from a season-long loan. It may cause clubs to decide short-term loans are the best way to operate from now on, but at least then everyone knows where they stand.

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The Town hierarchy moved quickly to replace those lost, and with a week of the window remaining Josh Davison arrived from Charlton Athletic. Fitting into the Garner mould of being young, talented, and promising, Davison immediately showed what his game is about during his debut at Colchester United last weekend.

The final few days saw Anthony Grant part for pastures new - a move that was probably long overdue and one that I don't think will hurt Town in achieving their short and long-term goals - before Barry, Brandon Cooper, and Joe Tomlinson all arrived as Swindon ended the window strongly.

Barry and Cooper have all the promise and talent in the world, while Tomlinson's acquisition smacks of Ben Chorley's influence - a relative unknown who made his name in non-league football and is now ready to show the Football League what he can do. He also grew up in Chiseldon, did Tomlinson, so he'll be keen to do well for his close-to-home-town club.

Overall, I feel Swindon have done seriously well in this window, especially considering some of the challenges they have been presented with and the embargo they remain under. If I was being slightly picky, I'd say they're a striker light, but my hope is that Jayden Mitchell-Lawson is offered the chance to be able to show what he can do and he proves to be a vital cog in Town's promotion machine.


IN: Emmanuel Idem [Unattached - Swindon], Free, Jake O'Brien [Crystal Palace - Swindon] Loan, Josh Davison [Charlton Athletic - Swindon] Loan, Louie Barry [Aston Villa - Swindon] Loan, Brandon Cooper [Swansea City - Swindon] Loan, Joe Tomlinson [Peterborough United - Swindon] Loan.

OUT: Alex Gilbert [Swindon - Brentford] Loan Recall, Romoney Crichlow [Swindon - Huddersfield - Plymouth] Loan, Kaine Kesler-Hayden [Swindon - Aston Villa] Loan Recall, Tyreece Simpson [Swindon - Ipswich] Loan Recall, Anthony Grant [Swindon - Scunthorpe] Released.