2019-20 EFL Championship: 4 starlets to keep an eye on
Even since its infancy, the EFL Championship has been a breeding ground for some of the top young talents in English football and one would expect that trend to continue this season as well, with several starlets already laying down an early marker in the opening month of the campaign.
Looking at things in the recent past, success in the Championship has proven to be a short-cut route for promising youngsters to earn a coveted move to the Premier League, with Neal Maupay, Oliver McBurnie, Daniel James, Lloyd Kelly and Harry Wilson amongst those this summer to have followed the footsteps of Lewis Cook, David Brooks and James Maddison to the top-flight.
The decent level of competition and the presence of some high-profile managers coupled with the diversity of teams vying for their respective goals make the EFL Championship a solid platform for the youngsters to showcase their talent.
With that in mind, let us run the rule over 4 starlets who could take the 2019-20 EFL Championship by storm:
1. Eddie Nketiah (Leeds United)
Apparently brought in with a view to filling in the boots of Kemar Roofe, the England U-21 international has enjoyed a stellar start to the campaign, with the Lewisham-born sharp-shooter finding the net thrice for the West Yorkshire giants thus far.
Nketiah, who scored in the Premier League for the Gunners last season, is yet to start a game in the Championship under Marcelo Bielsa but his winner in the 1-0 victory over Brentford is surely a promise of better things to come.
Indeed, a successful loan stint at Elland Road would do a world of good to his chances of challenging for a more significant role at the Emirates next term.
2. Nathan Ferguson (West Brom)
Talk about a breakout star in the Championship and you would definitely find it hard to ignore Nathan Ferguson, who has successfully made the jump from the academy ranks to the senior side at West Brom this season.
The 18-year-old was hardly in the first-team picture before the start of the season and Slaven Bilic’s decision to hand him a start against Nottingham Forest on the opening day of the Championship would have raised plenty of eyebrows.
However, the teenager silenced his critics with a superb all-round display at the City Ground, while also claiming an assist.
Ferguson’s consistent run of form in August forced Bilic to keep new signing Darnell Furlong on the bench, although the former QPR man came through the door as a more established right-back at the Championship level.
Max Aarons (Norwich City) and Jayden Bogle (Derby County) enjoyed successful breakthrough seasons in the Championship last season and Nathan Ferguson might be the next in the queue to grab the headlines in the days to come.
3. Eberechi Eze (QPR)
The 21-year-old attacking midfielder of Nigerian descent is not a completely unknown entity to the fans in the Championship, given that he featured regularly in QPR’s first-team last season.
Eze has been in the frame for the last couple of seasons and while he might not have done enough to attract suitors from the Premier League, this might well be the season for the highly-rated midfielder to take significant strides towards fulfilling his potential.
The youngster has already scored once and assisted a couple in his first 6 league appearances for QPR, bagging a couple of man-of-the-match awards in the process, and there is every possibility that he might challenge for bigger things in the near future if he continues that kind form.
4. Marcus Tavernier (Middlesbrough)
Another England youth international on the list, the Middlesbrough academy graduate has found himself in the periphery of the first-team over the past couple of campaigns and this might be the season where he finally kicks on and manages to establish himself in a more significant role.
The appointment of Jonathan Woodgate should certainly help his development at Teesside and though he has just played a solitary cameo from the bench in the Championship so far, one would expect him to enjoy regular minutes in the latter stages of the season.
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