This is the final instalment of our League 2 preview – we look at 10 players that are worth keeping an eye on. Included are some ex-Premier League youth players who didn’t make the grade, and some well known performers as well as up and coming youngsters who started out low down.
1. John Akinde (Barnet)
Akinde has bagged 52 in the last two seasons – 33 in 49 for Barnet last season and 18 in 44 the season before. At 26, he is in the prime of his career, and maturing according to those around him. Barnet are up there and not expected to struggle now they are back in the Football League, which I agree with. League 2 is a step up from the Conference, but I’m confident that Akinde will do well for Barnet.
2. Kevin Osei (Carlisle)
Osei was part of the Marseille academy for 11 years, and made one first team start before 3 appearances lower down in the French leagues. Given a strong run of games, the pacey forward could really push Carlisle up the table, but if he does well he could be off after his 6 month deal expires, with bigger clubs always sniffing!
3. Tom Nichols (Exeter)
The 22 year old Striker is improving rapdily. 17 goals in 39 games last season, and one of the highest scorers in the League for an average team. He is the most valuable asset for Exeter City this season, and could fire them into the top 7. However, I’d be surprised if a League One side did not take a chance on him.
4. Blair Turgott (Leyton Orient)
Another West Ham youth player – a pacey, direct winger with excellent delivery. Given a run of games he could find his feet at this level at work his way back to the Championship. England Under 19 international, he has quality – but he needs a club who will give him game time.
5. Dan Potts (Luton)
Potts was all the rage at West Ham a few seasons ago, but did not kick on. At Luton, he will get a run of games which is key for these ex-Premier League youth players. He is better than league 2, but has to prove that to other teams higher up. Luton are 2nd favourites for the title, so he could be playing League One football next season if it all goes to plan.
6. Adi Yussuf (Mansfield)
Yussuf had a few brief spells in the football league a season or so ago – but was never given many chances. He dropped down to the Conference South with Bath City last season and bagged 27 in 39 games – obviously quality levels are hugely different but with a little confidence he could bag double figures for a precariously placed Mansfield, who I feel could go down.
7. Lawson D’Ath (Northampton)
D’Ath scored 8 last season in 44 games, but created plenty for a team that is fancied for the top 7 this season. They fell away later on in the season in the 14/15 campaign – but with a few good additions they should be a challenger for the top 7 in my eyes. D’Ath is a key man for them!
8. Ben Kennedy (Stevenage)
The Northern Irish youngster is being chased by some of the Premier League elite. At 18, he scored 4 in 12 appearances towards the back end of last season and signed his first professional deal. Under Teddy Sheringham, he couldn’t be in better hands. As an international striker, Sheringham will be an excellent mentor for the youngster, and if he doesn’t move on this summer, he probably will in the next two windows.
9. Jake Hyde (York City)
Hyde bagged 10 in 41 games last season, but was not the main man for York. Wes Fletcher has since moved, so Hyde should be the main striker for the coming season. Still only 25, he has the potential to bag 15-20 this season and is a very good striker!
10. Brad Walker (Hartlepool)
Walker won the Apprentice of the Year award in 2014, and with 64 league appearances for Hartlepool and 8 goals, he is certainly one that will move up through the divisions. A talented central midfielder with an eye for goal – he will be one to look out for on Soccer Saturday, with Jeff Stelling likely to explode if any Hartlepool player scores.
Those are my 10 to watch out for this season – next up we have a Preview of League One!