The 2016-17 Premier League season welcomes three new clubs into the league and with them, a host of new players who have marked their efforts in the Championship. Burnley, Middlesborough and Hull City will all return to the top flight but they have players who will hold their own in the new season. Middlesborough have made their mark on top clubs in recent seasons – taking Liverpool and Manchester United to penalties in the FA Cup and the Capital One Cup in the last two years. Hull City manager Steve Bruce has bags of experience in the Premier League with clubs; Birmingham City, Hull City, Sunderland and Wigan Athletic. Burnley had some great players the last time they were in the top division – with Danny Ings making his international debut and a few others having tremendous seasons.
This season, the three teams could bring stars of their own into the Premier League and England could find the next Jamie Vardy. Here are just five players to look out for in the new season who could make an impression…
Adam Clayton – Middlesbrough
Clayton was one of four Middlesbrough players to be voted by Championship managers and coaches as their top 15 players of the year and it’s easy to see why. The central midfielder played more minutes outfield than anyone else in the Boro squad and he was influential to the side’s promotion fight. He dictates the play and keeps the game ticking for his side and his influence next season will be even more important.
Daniel Ayala – Middlesbrough
Middlesbrough’s central defender, Daniel Ayala, was one of their best players last season as he picked up more man of the match performances than the rest of his teammates. He was statistically the highest rated player in the Middlesbrough squad last season as he kept their defence strong and stable at the back. He got a three assists and a goal too as his aerial threat and set piece taking was put to good use. Like Clayton, he’s a leader who’ll be depended upon next season and it’s crucial he stays fit.
Abel Hernandez – Hull City
Hull City’s Player of the Year and Player’s Player of the Year notched up 20 goals in 41 appearances for the Tigers as they gained promotion through the play-offs under Steve Bruce. The attacker had a disappointing first season in 2013-14 and was tipped for an exit before bouncing back last year to produce one of the best performing seasons in the Championship for Hull City. He’ll be hoping to carry on his good form next year in the top flight.
Ben Mee – Burnley
Burnley kept 20 clean sheets last season and Ben Mee, their central defender, was absolutely pivotal to keeping that record as they soured to victory in the Championship. He was voted Player’s Player by his team-mates as a result and he promises to provide some solidity to the Burnley side as they hope to stay up next season. He’s decent in the air and always has his head switched on so he’ll be hoping to stop the likes of Aguero, Sturridge and Ibrahimovic.
Andre Gray – Burnley
The Championship Sky Bet Player of the Season was prolific for the champions last season. He was Burnley’s top goal scorer as he notched up 25 goals in the Championship for the winners. He’s a goal threat and a hassle for defenders and he’ll be hoping to make his mark on the Premier League in the 2016-17 season.
David Nugent – Middlesborough
The 31 year-old forward became a household name when he was surprisingly picked by Steve McClaren to represent England in a European Qualifier against Andorra in 2007. He came on as a substitute and scored a tap-in at the end of the second half to become the first player from Preston North End to represent the Three Lions since Sir Tom Finney 49 years previously. With previous Premier League experience with Burnley and Portsmouth, he’ll be hoping to return with a bang. He played 38 Championship games for Middlesborough last season, including 24 starts and netted on 8 occasions. He recorded 7 assists too and continues to be a threat for Boro. He’s good at holding the ball up and keeping possession and that could be important for Middlesborough who may find themselves pressing on the counter-attack a lot more in the Premier League.