ONES TO WATCH: FIVE OF THE MOST EXCITING YOUNG PLAYERS IN LEAGUE TWO
League Two has been a hotbed for great young players for a long time, and this season is no different.
We are looking at five young players who could be the next players to break through into the higher tiers in English football.
All players are 23 or under and cannot be loanees, so some will miss out, but here five of the best young players in the EFL.
CLUB: FOREST GREEN ROVERS
After loan spells with Exeter City and Walsall, Kane Wilson has found a home at Forest Green, and is a big factor in their current great run. The wing-back is a pivotal part of Rob Edwards’ system at the New Lawn and has delivered in terms of assists and performances which has established the side as league leaders.
Wilson has the most expected assists in the league with 4.15, and the 2nd most assists with 4, only behind the club’s other starting wing-back, Nicky Cadden. He also has the most dribbles in the league, with 92 and is always willing to take on his man and attempt to put a cross in.
Wilson has excelled as a wing-back, and while it makes no sense for him to leave Forest Green at this current time, he is certainly one to watch in this incredibly strong side.
CLUB: SALFORD CITY
Salford City have underperformed so far this season, but if their fortunes are to turn around, Brandon Thomas-Asante could be the man to lead that charge. He has not had a great start to the season either, but some of his numbers are very encouraging, and show that he is certainly capable of being a real threat at this level.
His expected goals are 4.29, which he is vastly underperforming, having only scored once so far this season. He averages 3.21 shots a game and one thing that is noticeable when you look at those shots, is that plenty are from outside the box which could suggest that he is currently rushing his shots and needs to compose himself more.
He is very good with the ball at his feet, and if he can get on a run of finding the back of the net more often, there is a chance he earns himself a big move sooner rather than later.
Rochdale academy graduate Aaron Morley has been arguably the brightest light in what has been a testing time for the club on and off the pitch in recent times. The central midfielder has impressed this season in an average Rochdale team, who are still settling to life in League Two.
Morley has an expected assist total of 3.05, and as he only has one, the onus would be on his strikers to start finishing the chances he is creating. He has also played the most passes into the final third in the league, which shows he is a big part of Rochdale’s attacking play, and often the one to progress from midfield to attack.
His 11.89 progressive passes per 90 also back this up and tell us Morley is a player that is usually looking to make things happen. Morley was heavily linked with Shrewsbury Town over the summer, and it won’t be long before other clubs in League One start eyeing the midfielder.
CLUB: COLCHESTER UNITED POSITION: GK
Shamal George has really had to earn his money this season as Colchester United have not been the greatest side defensively so far. Luckily for Hayden Mullins, he may have the best young goalkeeper in the league, and George has proven that so far this season.
The former Liverpool man, who famously played up front for the Reds in a pre-season friendly, has shown his capabilities at the other end of the pitch, with a prevented goals total of 6.99, which puts him far and away at the top for that specific statistic in League Two. While this is not a great thing for the Colchester defence, this goes to show just how important George has been for the club this season.
He also makes the most saves per 90, with a total of 3.52, and his long pass success rate is not too bad either, completing 73.68% of his attempts. If George can continue his form, he could be another player on this list that we eventually see move forward with their career at a higher level of English football.
CLUB: EXETER CITY
After being heavily linked with Sunderland, Josh Key has continued to show why he is one of the leagues brightest prospects. Key has been successful with 36.11% of his crosses which isn’t the best in the league, but it does show his willingness to beat his man and attempt to get a cross into the box.
The wing-back is just as good defensively and has arguably been more impressive this season in that area. Key is reminiscent of former Exeter player David Wheeler, with his ability to win headers shown by the fact he gets into 7.42 aerial duels per 90. His last-ditch tackle against Forest Green remains one of the best tackles in the League this season.
Sunderland put in four bids last summer, and while Key has admitted it did affect his start to the season, it might not be long until they come back for more.