There aren’t many things more exciting in football than seeing a talent progress through the leagues before exploding onto the scene in the top division. Opinions are always divided on whether the lower league player in question can cut it or not. Here are five who are up for debate today.
Jordan Rhodes | Blackburn Rovers
Rhodes has been the name on every Scottish football fans lips since he burst onto the scene with Huddersfield Town. After starting his career at Ipswich Town and enjoying loan spells at Oxford, Rochdale and Brentford, the Terriers bought Rhodes to the club for £350,000, a fee that turned out to be a bargain of mammoth proportions, with Jordan scoring six goals in his opening six games for his new club.
Rhodes’ achievements, including an eight minute headed hat-trick and finishing the 2011-2012 season as the English league’s top scorer with 36 goals helped convince Blackburn to shell out a whopping £8 million for his services, a huge fee for someone who has never played top flight football.
Don’t be surprised to see this predator grace the Premier League soon, as at the age of 23, the only way is up for this reserved front man.
Andy King | Leicester City
King has been a staple in a promotion chasing Leicester side, and has quickly become a fan favourite at the King Power stadium.
His seemingly bottomless tank of energy and killer right foot has earned him many an admirer in the football world, whilst an ever-growing reputation of being a goal scoring midfielder and a fully-fledged Wales international will certainly boost a value that has certainly risen in the past couple of years.
There is certainly no doubt that King would have to improve as an all round player to make the grade at the top flight, but King has potential to step up, and at just 24, certainly has some time to do so.
Alex Smithies | Huddersfield Town
It seems Smithies has been knocking at the Premier League door for a few years now, and with over 130 appearances notched up by the age of 23, now might finally be the time for this talented goalkeeper to show what he can do.
Having been previously linked with Aston Villa and Stoke City, the Englishman has gone from strength to strength between the sticks for the Terriers. His career highlight so far would have to be his stunning display in the League one play off final against Sheffield United, producing a string of saves to somehow keep a clean sheet and end the game 0-0, where he would go on to deny three Blades penalty takers and convert one himself, whilst his opposite number fluffed his spot kick, gifting promotion to Huddersfield.
Having represented England at youth level and winning a number of admirers, it wouldn’t surprise me to see Smithies in a Premier League number one jersey and potentially part of the England set up in the coming years.
Jonathan Williams | Crystal Palace
There has been much hype about Williams in recent years, even when he was appearing for the Crystal Palace youth and reserve teams back in 2011.
With a wonderful left foot and a showcase of skills and dribbling ability on display at the tender age of 19, Williams has already started to show the footballing world just what he might become.
Even a broken fibula has failed to slow the steady rise of the Welsh youngster, with Williams already appearing multiple times in the Palace first team and representing Wales at every youth level.
With him recently signing a contract at Selhurst Park that will keep him with the Eagles until 2017, it might be a little while before we seem him playing at the top level, unless play off chasing Palace can produce the goods that their talented youngsters promise and get them up into the big time again.
Matej Vydra | Watford
With Vydra only being on loan at Watford from Italian outfit Udinese, this one may never happen, but the prolific front man is earning rave reviews and attracting the attention of many a club from around the world.
The Czech forward arrived at Vicarage Road on loan at the beginning of this season and has hit 20 goals in 33 appearances for the Hornets, scoring successive braces against Nottingham Forest and Brighton and Hove Albion.
Already picking up the award of Championship Player of the Season, and at the age of 20, Vydra’s options seem to be open as to where he wishes to end up. His stock has taken a significant rise and it’s easy to see the striker plying his trade in a higher division.
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