Championship – Ones to Watch
The Sky Bet Championship season is about to get under way, but which young players could impress this season?
We have asked the hosts of the Not The Top 20 Podcast – Ali Maxwell and George Elek – to pick six players who could take the division by storm…
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Barnes is a player who has made a big impression during his past couple of loans and he could give this season a real go. He is a regular in the England Under-20 team, he’s scored goals and got assists at both MK Dons and Barnsley whilst out on loan and after a fantastic first half of last season with the Tykes he was recalled by Leicester.
He now ends up at West Brom on loan and we think it’s a great bit of business. Coming off the left, he’s got an excellent long shot and he can go both ways, which can help him create a yard of space for a cross or a long shot.
This could be a huge season for him – he could be in double figures for goals and assists and that would be an incredible output. It’s a player we can get really excited about in terms of England as well if he has a breakout season.
4:49 Sky Bet Championship predictions Ryan Ledson
We’ve never seen a central midfielder more energetic than Ledson – he loves a tackle and plays with a smile on his face – Preston fans are absolutely going to love this player.
He, Ben Pearson and Alan Browne just ahead could make a really good midfield trio. At only 20, he’s got a wealth of experience in the EFL already and he’s another player who has been through the England youth system.
We think he will take the step up and make his mark on the Championship very easily – he was touted for big things at Everton and he’s fulfilled his potential during his spells at Cambridge United and Oxford United – he’s impressed in League One and League Two and now is the time for him to go to a great club in Preston who are also going places.
He signed for Brentford last season and was hugely impressive in his first Championship season. He played 45 games, he was in the top five in terms of the league rankings for drills, shots and key passes.
He can offer all sorts of attacking output and we think we will see him play through the middle a little more this season – he has electric pace, he is a fantastic dribbler so if he can work on his finishing, we could be looking at something special here.
I know that Brentford are looking at his development incredibly seriously because there’s a £20-30m player under there somewhere and they will be looking to get it out of him this season.
It’s an incredible story – in July last year he was playing for Greenwich Borough, he moved on a one-year deal to Cheltenham and 25 goals later, he’s now at Bristol City.
He is playing for a manager in Lee Johnson and you reckon that Eisa is going to take to the Championship really well – just look at Bobby Reid who had scored 11 goals in his whole career before last season and then he was put up front and scored 22 in the league.
We think he has joined the perfect club for his development and we are looking at a player who could easily get into double figures and maybe even more – he’ll be at the forefront of a really exciting Bristol City team.
Brereton was stuck out wide last season and it’s not where we see him ending up – he’s much more an out-and-out striker as we’ve seen for the England Under-19s.
His performance against Arsenal in the FA Cup last season summed up everything he can be – he has pace, power and he caused them an absolute nightmare all game.
He’s going to have to battle for a place in the first team and that could be good for him as well as playing with all Forest’s excellent players in training.
Of all the players we have discussed, we think Mount is the most fascinating prospect going forward ahead of this new season. If it wasn’t for Frank Lampard and his Chelsea connection, he’d be pushing for a place in the Chelsea team like Callum Hudson-Odoi or playing at another Premier League club on loan.
He’s just 19, he absolutely tore up Vitesse with 14 goals and nine assists, which is an amazing return for a player of his age – fans may well compare his success abroad to that of Lewis Baker but he is four years younger than Baker.
This is a guy who could easily be way too good for this level and he could take Derby and Lampard to the top of the table.