If the season so far has proven anything it’s that there is plenty of talent amongst the lower leagues that can more than hold their own in the top tier of English football. There are countless examples of unfancied or untried players doing the business right now; look at Teemu Pukki and Todd Cantwell at Norwich or Adam Webster and Neil Maupay at Brighton. Failing that, look at the entire Sheffield United side; there are a bucket full of players who are good enough but getting the chance is hard.
Here are five lower league players who could – or perhaps should – be on the move come January.
NUMBER 5 – JACK BUTLAND
Okay, we’re going to start with a controversial one – Jack Butland. It wasn’t long ago that the Stoke keeper was in the England squad and linked with a move to Liverpool but now his career is looking somewhat on the downward trajectory.
You don’t lose ability though and Butland has proven he’s a more than capable keeper at the elite level and there is a particular club in London – West Ham – who could just be persuaded to take a punt on a new number two given the performances Roberto has turned in over the last few weeks.
NUMBER 4 – JAYDEN BOGLE
Bogle only made his senior breakthrough last season under the tutelage of Frank Lampard at Derby, but he’s quickly made a name for himself as a full back with huge potential. After featuring 40 times last year, he suffered an injury early this campaign but after coming back strongly he earned his England Under 20 debut and if he can make a similar impact in the Premier League then senior call ups might follow.
The 19-year-old is like many young modern-day defenders in that he’s got real quality on the ball, which his 3 assists so far will support. Providing he eradicates the occasional defensive mishap then he’ll be some player.
NUMBER 3 – MARCUS MADDISON
Maddison is the only player from League One on our list but he’s shown enough promise for Peterborough to warrant the links to the Premier League. The attacking midfielder nearly drifted into nothingness after coming through the youth system at Newcastle but then the Posh forked out nearly £300k to sign him from Gateshead and he hasn’t looked back.
He’s netted 62 goals and provided 90 assists in 241 games in Peterborough and although it would be a big step up, since the ability to manipulate the ball like Maddison does is a skill that would carve open the best of defences.
NUMBER 2 – JARROD BOWEN
It was a little surprising that Bowen was still part of the Hull squad when the summer window slammed shut after a season where the young winger scored 22 goals in 46 league appearances. The boy is at it again though and rumours are circulating already with a £20m fee being cited.
If that’s true it would be fantastic business to pick up a lad with years ahead of him – he’s only 22 – and a track record of finding the net from out wide. So far this campaign he’s contributed 13 goals and three assists in 18.
NUMBER 1 – KALVIN PHILLIPS
Leeds man Phillips is often referred to as the best player outside of the Premier League and, even if his boyhood side don’t win promotion, it’s likely he’ll soon be stepping up. He’s predominantly a holding midfielder, although he can drop into the back four if needed, and has a range of passing that could rival that of a NFL Super Bowl winning quarterback.
He’s English, relatively young at 23 and, based on the fact that even Fred can hold down a position in Man United’s midfield, more than capable of running games in the top tier.
There you have it, five players who could all be playing in a Premier League ground near you come January. Which one would you pick for your team?