With a new season comes new talent but whose time to shine will it be this year?
Not The Top 20's Ali Maxwell and George Elek gave us their picks for the starlets to look out for this season...
João Pedro – Watford
Brazilian attacker João Pedro kicked off the campaign in style, netting the match-winner as Watford recorded a 1-0 win over Sheffield United in their Sky Bet Championship opener. The 20-year-old, who arrived at Vicarage Roadd from Fluminense in January 2020, has experience at this level, making 38 appearances for the Hornets in 2020/21 as they won promotion to the top-flight.
“From what I can see in the interim, he has bulked up and got used to the pace of English football. I’m expecting a star campaign from a player who, frankly, looks like he has the skills to go to the top if can put together a consistent season. Under Rob Edwards, he will finally have a manager who can get the best out of him.”
Alex Scott – Bristol City
Fresh off the back of the England Under-19s’ 2022 European Championship triumph in the summer, midfielder Alex Scott will look to build on his breakthrough season last year with Bristol City which saw him score four goals in 38 league outings. The 18-year-old was a part of the Three Lions team that beat Israel 3-1 in extra-time in the Final, which he started.
“The ‘Guernsey Grealish’, as his nickname goes, was in and out of the side at Bristol City last season but played in a variety of positions; he played as a 10, as a wide player and as a central midfielder as well. I think, in this campaign, he’s going to really show himself to be that attacking midfielder that can really take the league by storm. He’s got everything about him.”
Kwame Poku – Peterborough United
It could be Ghana international Kwame Poku’s moment in Sky Bet League One this season, having arrived at Peterborough United last summer and settling into life at the Weston Homes Stadium. The 20-year-old first caught the eye of EFL outfit Colchester United in 2019 after impressing in the non-league pyramid, and going on to make his professional debut in the EFL Trophy.
“I’m expecting and some star performances from a player that is still very young. He’s someone who we’ve been watching for two or three seasons because he broke into the Colchester side, aged just 17. After a tricky season in the Championship, he finished pretty strongly. I think Grant McCann is the man to unlock his talents.”
Max Bird – Derby County
Derby County’s number eight Max Bird became the Rams’ eighth youngest-ever debutant when he made his bow in 2017, and he’s come a long way since then. The 21-year-old, who progressed through his hometown Club’s youth setup, has established himself within the first-team, making 41 appearances in the Championship last season.
“Max Bird is probably the one who could really take this league by storm. He’s a controlling central midfield player with a brilliant array of passing. I’ve got a feeling that him and Conor Hourihane could have a decent partnership in the central midfield this season.”
Crewe Alexandra – Zac Williams
A new deal was the reward for Zac Williams, who extended his stay with Crewe Alexandra in May, having only made his EFL debut against Bolton Wanderers in League One last November. The Wales Under-19s international’s season was cut short due to injury last year, but 19 league appearances stand him in good stead, with the Alex fending off interest in the 18-year-old.
“At Crewe Alexandra, you could pick one of half-a-dozen young players, but young Zac Williams is the one I’m probably most looking forward to watching develop this season under Alex Morris. He once won Man of the Match when he was 17 and instead of the post-match champagne, he was given a cake because he wasn’t allowed the alcohol.”
John McAtee – Grimsby Town
The news of John McAtee’s return to Grimsby Town after making the switch to Luton Town before being loaned back to the Club for the term buoyed Mariners supporters. The striker finished last season as Grimsby’s top scorer with 16 strikes to his name, firing them back to Sky Bet League Two at the first time of asking.
“His younger brother plays at Manchester City but he’s at Grimsby Town, having scored 16 goals in the National League last season. He’s just a very exciting, really aggressive, attacking player who looks to get on the ball whenever possible and drive at goal. He’s not afraid of a shot but he might have to be a little bit less trigger happy this season, but he’s a massive talent.”