It is not uncommon for talented Premier League and Championship footballers to get their start in League One. In fact, many of this year’s standout League One footballers are already being monitored by Championship and Premier League clubs.
Firstly, one player that has been particularly on-form during the 2011/2012 season is Huddersfield Town’s 21-year-old striker Jordan Rhodes. Rhodes has been a goal-scoring machine for the League One team this season, with 20 goals scored in the lead-up to the January transfer window. It is rumoured that top Premier League clubs like Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur have their eye on the Scottish international, with Spurs’ manager Harry Redknapp reportedly admiring his speed, strength and natural goal-scoring talent.
One of the most buzzed-about players in League One has a familiar surname, which helps him standout among the crowd. However, Bradley Wright-Phillips, half-brother of QPR star Shaun Wright-Phillips and son of former England international Ian Wright, hasn’t relied on the family name to establish him as a potential great, and has earned his reputation through consistently impressive performances. The Charlton Athletic striker has already scored 14 goals prior to the January transfer window. Though Bradley Wright-Phillips has certainly caught the eye of many Championship and Premier League managers, Charlton Athletic are set for promotion to the Championship next year, potentially securing Wright-Phillips’ spot on the team.
Another impressive League One player is 19-year-old Leyton Orient winger George Porter, who got his start at the semi-professional team Cray Wanderers. After successful performances while on loan at Lewes and Hastings United, a number of Championship teams have taken an interest in Porter, including Nottingham Forest, Ipswich and Millwall.
Goal-scoring isn’t the only skill that Premier League and Championship managers look for when scouting players from the lower leagues, as there are a number of defenders who are also under consideration. For example, the Huddersfield goalkeeper Alex Smithies has been linked to many Premier League clubs, including Tottenham Hotspur and Stoke City. Though the 21-year-old has been out injured during the 2011/2012 season, his performance for England at the U16 and U19 levels has impressed many top-flight managers.
As you can see, League One has once again proven to be a breeding ground for many talented footballers. For many of these standout players, England’s third tier will be a springboard for bigger and better performances. Though the Football League is often ignored by Championship and Premier League fans, it is one of the best places to scout up-and-coming talent.
Furthermore, League Two can also be a source of fresh talent. For example, 19-year-old Southend midfielder Kane Ferdinand has scored 6 goals for the League 2 team as of the beginning of January 2012. As the cousin of Anton and Rio Ferdinand, Kane comes from a family of top-flight footballers and is reportedly under consideration by Championship club West Ham United. Both Anton and Rio are former West Ham players and have established a positive family reputation for their young cousin – further securing his chances of joining the club.