FUTURE STARS: FIVE YOUNG PLAYERS IN LEAGUE ONE YOU MUST KEEP AN EYE ON
Updated: Oct 18, 2021
League One this season is arguably the most stacked it’s ever been in terms of clubs, but also in terms of young talent breaking through the ranks.
We are looking at five young players that could soon find themselves in England’s second tier or further up.
All players are 23 or under and cannot be loanees, so players like Mattie Pollock and Jokull Andresson miss out, but here are five of the best young players in League One.
CLUB: LINCOLN CITY
Despite Lincoln City’s underwhelming start to the season, Anthony Scully has proved to be one of the most dangerous attacking players in the division. Scully has the highest expected goals and assists in the league with 8.66, and is outperforming that statistic, with a 10 goal and assist return. This puts him in 2nd place behind arguably the most in-form striker in the EFL, Morecambe’s Cole Stockton.
Playing on the left of a front three, Scully loves to cut inside and finish with his right foot, often placing his shot in the top right corner. The Irishman also has an eye for a pass as well, making 11 key passes this season, putting him second in that specific stat.
This shows that Scully is perfect for a front three as he can not only score but also provide, and any mid-table Championship side should be looking to bring Scully in, especially if Lincoln continue to struggle.
CLUB: MK DONS
Scott Twine was a footballer in demand following his loan spell at Newport County, and his successful 20/21 season in a poor Swindon Town team. His contract was up at Swindon and he chose to sign with MK Dons, and he has thrived since arriving in Milton Keynes.
Usually playing in attacking midfield, Twine has already racked up six goals and two assists, including a spectacular hat-trick against Fleetwood. A dead-ball specialist, half of Twine’s goals are free kicks, which is something the Englishman is also good at drawing, having suffered 30 fouls this season, the second most behind Olodapo Afolayan.
Twine is also an intelligent passer who is looking to make things happen, as he has played 11 key passes, as well as the third most through passes in the league with 19. There seems to be a high ceiling on Twine, so he could be another player we see in the Championship sooner rather than later.
CLUB: CREWE ALEXANDRA
Crewe Alexandra are no strangers to producing strong academy talent, and Rio Adebisi could be the next player to come up through the ranks and go into a higher division. Playing at LB, the Englishman has adapted to life in League One relatively well in his first two seasons as a full on first teamer.
Adebisi enters 8.61 defensive duels per 90 minutes which places him in a respectable 15th and shows us that he isn’t afraid to get stuck in. The left-back has made 66 interceptions and his reading of the game is encouraging for a young player making his way into a first team environment.
He is also strong going forward, with a 65.52% dribbling success rate, which is important for a modern day full-back. While perhaps not ready for a big move yet, Adebisi is certainly one to keep an eye on and is one of Crewe’s most exciting young players.
CLUB: BOLTON WANDERERS
Oladapo Afolayan had a different start to his football career, leaving Chelsea’s academy to focus on his school work, but after spells playing youth football with Toronto, and playing for the Loughborough University team while studying for an engineering degree. After turning professional at Solihull Moors, Afolayan earnt a big move to West Ham United but was sent on three different loan spells.
The third one stuck and he is now one of Bolton Wanderers best players and has impressed many with his brave attacking play. Afolayan is the 5th most successful dribbler in the league and loves to go at defenders, with an eye to making something happen in the game.
Similar to Scully, the Englishman loves to cut inside on his right foot and place the ball into the bottom corner, usually from outside the box. This is something he has done for four of his six goals.
Afolayan seems to be very adaptable, and it would be no surprise to see him in the Championship soon, either with Bolton or another side of a similar stature.
CLUB: MK DONS
It was strange that Matt O’Riley spent six months without a club after leaving Fulham in Summer 2020, but patience paid off for the midfielder as he has stood out since arriving at MK Dons.
Taking an important role in a possession-heavy MK Dons side, often looking for the final ball and trying find his teammates runs. O’Riley has 20 deep completions, only one behind league leader Barry Bannan, which is a successful non-cross pass that is targeted within 25 yards of the opponent’s goal.
This shows the type of midfielder O’Riley is and he is very similar to Bannan, a player many know is good enough to have remained in the Championship this season. Liam Manning has carried on Russell Martin’s work at MK Dons in regard to focusing on keeping the ball, and O’Riley averages 59.22 passes per 90 minutes, making him a vital cog in this exciting team.