Story by Richard Curtis
With the new league season kicking off this weekend; who are the players to look out for?
Striking sensation Jordan Rhodes has scored a remarkable 71 goals in 122 games during his two and a half seasons at the club, the 22 year old former Ipswich youth player also has a Scotland international caps his name. Rhodes is seen as hot property premier league sides including Aston Villa have been linked with the player and championship side Blackburn Rovers have had a £4million bid turned down. I believe Rhodes should stay at Huddersfield for at least one more season; the experiences he gains over the next campaign will only benefit his future career.
New signing Adam Clayton could be a player to watch out for this season. The 23 year old didn’t have the best of times at Leeds, but had a highly successful youth career whilst at Manchester City and has a number of England U20 caps to his name.
Yugoslavian born midfielder Robert Koren has 61 Slovenian international caps to his name. Now aged 31 you could argue that Koren has replaced Jimmy Bullard as the experienced head in the tiger’s squad. Koren has a strike rate at Hull of one goal every four games not bad for a midfielder!!
Young Manchester United goalkeeper Ben Amos is to spend the 2012/13 season on loan at Hull. 22 year-old Amos impressed whilst on loan at Oldham Athletic in the previous the campaign and is expected to fight for Hull’s no.1 jersey.
Former Cardiff forward Michael Chopra has established himself as the key man of Paul Jewell’s side. Now 28, Chopra scored a slightly disappointing 14 goals in 45 games last season, more will be expected of him in this campaign.
Former Tranmere Rovers Youngster, Aaron Cresswell, 22 made 44 appearances for the Tractor Boys in the last campaign. Cresswell’s performances haven’t gone unnoticed and he’s been heavily linked with Premier League clubs such as Aston Villa; however it appears a move is unlikely with Jewell not willing to cash in on a player who recently signed a 3 year contract.
Former Derby County, Charlton Athletic and Portsmouth forward Luke Varney looks set to become Leeds main forward this season, with last season’s top scorer Ross McCormack linked with a move away from the club. Varney was born in Leicester, and began his career as a semi-professional footballer at non-league level with Quorn (not far from where I reside!) Despite playing in a struggling side Varney scored 6 goals last season, I expect a far greater return this campaign!
20 year old full back Aiden White is one of the championships most talented youngsters, when his deal expired this summer German Bundesliga side Werder Bremen were also believed to be in the chase to sign White upon the expiry of his contract.A sudden change of heart lead to White signing a new deal, he’ll be a key member of Neil Warnock’s side this season.
Maybe a surprise choice, but I really rate goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel. The shot-stopper has cemented himself as a certain starter on the foxes expensively assembled team sheet. The Danish International had 17 clean-sheets and saved 4 penalties last season earning him the club’s player of the year award. He’s certainly an improvement on the clubs previous man between the posts, not comfortable viewing for our editor I’m afraid…. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gKiE6Qe4pGY
Jamie Vardy certainly is a player to watch out for; can the non-league hero make it in the championship? At 25 Vardy is about to make football league debut! Leicester has paid a fee reportedly of more than £1m for the former Fleetwood town player. Last season Vardy played 36 games and scored a remarkable 31 goals for the cod army helping them achieve promotion to the football league.
Marvin Emnes scored a credible 18 goals last season and appears to of started this season where he left off with a goal in the league cup last weekend. Emnes joined the boro’ in 2008, Premier League for £3.2 million, however it is only recently that he has become a first team regular after loan spells with Swansea City and Fortuna Dusseldorf.
Fellow striker Lukas Jutiewicz will also hope to get into double figures again this season, having moved to boro’ in January from then championship side Coventry City. The 23 year old has already played for Everton, Swindon, Plymouth Argyle, Huddersfield Town and Motherwell; let’s hope he settles in the North East!
Darius Henderson now 30 is a forward who can cause any backline problems. Henderson is famous for his strength, heading ability and his physicality, last season he scored 15 goals in 30 games. Millwall will be reliant on Henderson’s goals if they are to be competitive this season.
Young Australian international Shane Lowry will be hoping for a regular spot in the side again this season. The former Aston Villa, Plymouth Argyle, Leeds United and Sheffield United defender now 23 made 22 appearances last season.
New signing Simon Cox is likely to be Forest’s star player this season, the 25 year old forward recently signed from fellow Midlands club West Bromwich Albion for a reported £2million. Cox is a member of the Republic of Ireland football side and made substitute appearances at Euro 2012.
It has also been announced that young Chelsea defender Sam Hutchinson is to join the reds on a 6-month loan deal. The move brings back memories of a young John Terry who joined the club on loan in 2000. Hutchinson, who can play at either right-back or in the centre of defence, becomes the eighth player to be signed by manager Sean O’Driscoll ahead of the start of the 2012/13 npower Championship campaign.
Midfielder George Boyd now 26 returned to the Posh’s side last season following a loan spell at championship rivals Nottingham Forest. Last season Boyd made 46 appearances and scored 8 goals. I’m tipping the former Stevenage Borough and Charlton Athletic player to have yet another decent campaign.
23 year-old forward Emile Sinclair is another to watch; in his first season with the Posh he scored 10 goals in 32 games can he get into double figures again?
Jamaican international and Wednesday Captain Jermaine Johnson is the heartbeat of the side. The experienced 32-year old midfielder has made 132 appearances for the club and will be key in their efforts to stay in the division, some pundits are even predicting Wednesday to follow in Southampton and Norwich’s footsteps and push for promotion this season.
It pains me to say it but I still rate forward Chris Maguire following his disaster of a spell at Derby County, the 23 year old fell out with manager Nigel Clough following his £500,000 move from Aberdeen and made only 3 appearances. At a fee reported to be as low as £100,000 manager David Jones has found yet another bargain, I expect Maguire to been in double figures come the seasons end!
It’s all change at Watford following the takeover by the wealthy Pozzo family who also own Italian side Udinese and Granada C.F in Spain. The Pozzo’s have appointed Gianfranco Zola as manager, so fans are expecting exciting football. One transfer in particular has caught my eye and that is the transfer of keeper Manuel Almunia from Arsenal, the Spaniard made 109 appearances for the club before being ousted by young Polish keeper Wojciech Szczęsny.
Steve Leo Beleck is another player I cannot wait to see in action. The 19 year old, Cameroon International and son of former Cameroon International footballer Thomas Libih has signed on a 12-month loan deal from Italian side Udienese. Beleck has spent the last two seasons playing in the Greek league at Panthrakikos and A.E.K Athens, the young midfielder impressed scoring 10 goals.
Wolves value wide man Matt Jarvis at £12m; this has reduced interest in the player from premier league clubs following the clubs relegation from the top flight, although West Ham continue to be linked with the player. If he stays Jarvis is likely to be Wolves star player this season, they’ll be reliant on him following the sale of fellow wide man Michael Kightly to Stoke City.
If anything Wolves squad is stronger now than it was last season in the top-flight, 23 years old midfielder Tongo Doumbia is an interesting loan signing from French Ligue 1 side Rennes, if he performs well there is a view to a permanent transfer.