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Football League emerging XI: Who to watch out for in 2015/16

27 July 2015

With just 11 days to go until the 2015/16 season gets under way, we've taken a look at some of the best emerging talents in The Football League.

Fans have been getting in touch via social media with their club's most promising youngsters, and we've compiled an emerging XI based on some of the suggestions.
Goalkeeper: Daniel Bentley – Southend United

After playing a vital part in Southend's promotion-winning season last term, Bentley will now be testing himself with the Shrimpers in Sky Bet League 1.

The 22-year-old stopper broke a club record by keeping 12 successive clean sheets at Roots Hall during the 2014/15 campaign, before becoming a Wembley hero with two penalty shoot-out saves against Wycombe Wanderers to send the Essex club into the third tier.

@football_league Dan Bentley will take the step up to league 1 and show why his so highly rated in Southend

— ToM ToM ✌ (@TomTomSouthend) July 27, 2015
Defender: Joe Bryan – Bristol City

At the age of just 21, Bristol City wingback Joe Bryan has already mustered up an impressive set of accolades.

A Sky Bet League 1 and Johnstone's Paint Trophy winner with the Robins last term, Bryan also claimed the Football League Young Player of the Month award for February. City moved to secure his talents long-term this summer, as he signed an extension at Ashton Gate until 2019.

Defender: Alfie Mawson – Barnsley

Mawson joins Barnsley after a fine first full season in professional football, where he had a hugely successful spell at Wycombe Wanderers.

The 21-year-old, on loan from Brentford at the time, starred at the heart of the defence as the Chairboys narrowly missed out on promotion, and his fine displays earned him third place in the Sky Bet League 2 Player of the Year award.

Defender: Regan Poole – Newport County

Poole was thrown in at the deep end last season, making his Newport debut just 94 days after his 16th birthday.

The central defender stepped up to the plate as the Exiles earned a goalless draw at Shrewsbury Town, with then-manager Justin Edinburgh hailing the youngster's accomplished performance. The Welsh teenager went on to make a further 10 appearances, and spent a week training with Premier League outfit Liverpool in May.

@football_league@SkyBetLeague2 Regan Poole, Aaron Collins and Keiran Parselle at Newport County all still 17 and in the first team squad

— Jamie Roberts (@JamieRoberts___) July 27, 2015
Midfielder: Lewis Cook - Leeds United

Cook enjoyed a breakthrough year last season, where he was one of a number of youngsters to excel in Leeds United’s first team, alongside fellow academy graduates Sam Byram, Alex Mowatt and Charlie Taylor.

Despite only being 18 years old, he played with a poise which belied his years and went on to make 38 appearances over the course of the season. Cook’s displays earned him an England Under 19 call-up, the LFE Apprentice of the Year for the Championship and Leeds’ Young Player Of The Year trophy.

Midfielder: Demarai Gray – Birmingham City

Birmingham City boast one of the Sky Bet Championship's hottest prospects in Demarai Gray.

The 19-year-old has been part of the St Andrew's first-team set-up for the last two seasons, and has featured prominently in the England Under-18, 19 and 20 squads. His promise has been rewarded in recent weeks, with Gray signing a new three-year contract with the Blues.

Midfielder: Ben Kennedy – Stevenage

Stevenage scholar Kennedy made an instant impact at the Lamex Stadium last term, and is now set to embark on his first full season as a professional footballer.

In just his second start for the club, Kennedy hit two goals in a 3-1 victory at Hartlepool, a performance which saw him rewarded with a professional contract just five days later. The attacking midfielder continued to be regular in the side as the club reached the Play-Offs.

Midfielder: Jordan Cousins – Charlton Athletic

The energetic midfielder was named as Charlton Athletic’s Player of the Season for 2014/15 after a string of excellent performances.
Cousins  is capable of beating opposition players through his dribbling skill and possesses a highly accurate passing range which, along with his 44 league appearances last season, makes him a vital part of the Addicks’ squad.

@football_league Jordan Cousins at #cafc will take it to the next level this season .

— MartTheTaxi © (@MartTheTaxi) July 27, 2015
Midfielder: Brad Walker – Hartlepool United

Walker has been a key member of Hartlepool United’s squad for the past two seasons, with his performances at the heart of midfield earning him a lot of admirers.

He won the Apprentice of the Year award for League 2 in 2014 and backed up a fine breakthrough season with an even stronger showing last term. Walker’s form was a major reason behind Hartlepool’s dramatic survival escape, with his technical ability catching the eye and helping him to rack up five goals.

Striker: Zach Clough – Bolton Wanderers

Bolton Wanderers manager Neil Lennon has already labelled Zach Clough a ‘special’ player, and it is easy to see why the Northern Irish boss rates the striker so highly.

A product of Bolton’s academy, the 20-year-old has shown a deft touch and a lethal finish in his first-team showings to date. Clough has only made 10 appearances for Bolton’s senior side, but he already has six goals to his name, ensuring he is one to watch at the Macron Stadium this campaign.
Striker: Che Adams – Sheffield United

Sheffield United prodigy Che Adams became a frequent inclusion in the Blades' starting line-up in the second-half of last season, making 11 Sky Bet League 1 appearances.

His most telling contribution came in the Capital One Cup semi-final, as he scored twice in three minutes to level the aggregate score against Tottenham Hotspur and claim the first professional goals of his career.

@football_league@SkyBetLeague1 che Adams at Sheffield United! Will play for England one day!

— Dane (@Daneshaw8) July 27, 2015

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