Ross County have used the free agent market to sign former Southampton academy star Josh Sims.
Sims has been without a club for six months after being released upon the expiry of his deal. He had joined the Saints academy from Portsmouth and spent 10 years there, reaching the senior squad and being loaned out to various clubs.
He has had some injury troubles, including a hamstring issue and a strange leg injury initially thought to be a nerve problem. Having also had a heart scare, the fact that he is still playing after these troubles is a relieving story. According to the Ross County club website, the Staggies have seen off the competition of clubs from both Scotland and England, so the signing of Sims is a real coup.
Name: Josh Sims
Previous Club: Southampton
Position: Winger (either side)
Height: 5’7 (174cm)
Preferred Foot: Right
Despite his fairly young age, Sims has bags of experience in many different reaches of football. Firstly, he has raked in a combined 67 appearances in the under-21 Premier League and Premier League 2, demonstrating a wealth of experience in the academy before taking to senior football; albeit he did take to the field for Southampton’s B side a few times as an adult.
He got his first breakthrough in the 2016/17 season at the age of 18, making seven appearances in the promised land of the Premier League. In 2017/18, Sims went on to play a further six times in the top flight of English football.
For his first loan, he spent six months at Reading in the Championship, and wasted no time in getting stuck in at a good level of senior football, taking part in a total of 640 minutes across 18 appearances for the Royals. His parent club clearly took notice of the way he threw himself at the league, as they recalled him for the tail end of that season to take part in the end of their Premier League campaign. Sims bowed seven more times for the Saints that season.
Next for Sims came a year across the pond on loan at New York Red Bulls. Though he only turned out 10 times in America, the experience away from home, with a different country’s style of football was likely invaluable, and a player bringing this type of experience to the table in Dingwall is a very exciting prospect.
Most recently, Sims spent the 2020/21 season on loan at Doncaster Rovers in League One, where he contributed to 11 goals- his most in a season in senior football. Despite his injury and health troubles, the fact that he had a good return at his last club can only be a good thing.
This signing is the culmination of nine months of Malky Mackay keeping a close eye on the situation surrounding Sims, and is yet another example of his contacts in the game. Competition on the wing for Regan Charles-Cook and Joseph Hungbo, who have been starting every week, was much needed as that kind of workload is unsustainable as brilliant as they are. It says a lot about their quality that Sims isn’t guaranteed a starting place right off the bat- 20 Premier League appearances at the age of 24 is not to be sniffed at.
Another factor to be considered is that this is a permanent deal. County already arguably have players in Sims’ calibre on loan, but this feeds into the long termism that was cited when Mackay got the Staggies hot-seat in the first place.
Overall, this is a very interesting signing, a marker of where Ross County want to be, and a statement to the teams around us in the top flight.