One Player From Each Championship Club Who Will Play in the Premier League – Part One

You can read Part Two here:


As the climax of the 2021/22 Championship campaign fast approaches, every club has their sights set on their own respective prize. There are at least ten teams still hopeful of earning promotion with a handful of games to go, four clubs to fight out relegation with the rest looking to build hope in preparation for next season.


For some, the Premier League could be a couple of months away. For others, the pursuit of promotion is several years from being a possibility.


Within every team, however, there are individuals hoping to accelerate their ascent to the promised land, and top-flight teams will already be looking forward to cherry-picking these prized possessions from the division below this summer.


Would this article have been more suitable for release before Fulham had all but secured promotion? Probably. But at least our decision to focus on players aged 23 and under who aren’t already on loan from a Premier League team goes some way to narrowing it down.


After all, if The Cottagers’ recent history is anything to go by, then ‘players who will play in the Premier League’ doesn’t always equate to ‘players who deserve to play in the Premier League’. So see this is as a long-term scouting assignment for the clubs currently playing at the top level above all else.


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Buckle in, open up your notes app (because who has a pen and paper lying around these days?) and get ready to jot down 24 names you could well be hearing about for many years to come in this two-part series.  


Huddersfield – Sorba Thomas (22)


Not even Sorba Thomas himself would have anticipated the impact he’d make in such a short time, joining from non-league Boreham Wood only last season. Now, he’s arguably the first name on the team sheet for Carlos Corberan’s Huddersfield – an absolute revelation under the Spaniard. 


Used primarily as a winger under the Spanish head coach, with his bursts of pace devastating down the flanks, it’s no surprise to see Sorba Thomas near the top of the assists ranking alongside names such as Harry Wilson and John Swift with 11 overall. 


With Huddersfield’s minor wobble in the last few matches, everyone with connections to The Terriers will hope their Welsh star can conjure up some more magic to cement a play-off spot. 


Overachieving arguably as a collective – another Premier League promotion attempt not on the cards after two poor seasons prior – Sorba Thomas has reaped most of the benefits with an international call-up to the Wales national team, an understandably proud moment earlier this campaign.


Capped three times now at the time of writing, it’s been quite the rise for a footballer plying his trade for Cheshunt in the seventh tier of English football only a few years ago. 


Player Analysis: Sorba Thomas


Known as a set-piece specialist, he could well give a potential Premier League suitor an edge if they gambled on the ex-Boreham Wood man. With Watford allegedly rumoured, it’ll be intriguing to see if Sorba moves on. If not, he can further reinforce his fan favourite tag for The Terriers. 


By Kelan Sarson / @SarsonKelan


Peterborough – Ronnie Edwards (19)


It is extremely rare that you see any player playing for a team in a relegation scrap, who have conceded the most in the division, use possession with such purpose, never mind a 19-year-old centre back.


Often defenders will step out of the back line hesitantly, almost through necessity, stuttering as they go before a simple option appears.


Peterborough’s Ronnie Edwards relishes an opportunity to carry the ball forward, he welcomes a darting run in behind forty yards ahead of him to invite a long pass and plays with a similar air of authority and fearlessness in his defensive duties as well.


This is the sort of confidence from the back that both Leeds United and Leicester City are in need of, a player that Ilan Meslier and Kasper Schmeichel can trust to distribute to, who is as press-resistant as centre-backs come and can spring counter-attacks from deep whilst having the speed to recover well if possession is overturned and the grit and discipline to soak up pressure as has frequently been the case this campaign.


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If it isn’t this season, a move upwards will certainly happen in the next couple of years. Ideally, Edwards gets another year to impress higher up in the Championship, but don’t be surprised to see Premier League teams attempt to secure him on their books this summer. 


By Brad Jones /@BradJonesSport


Blackburn – Tyrhys Dolan (20)


Blackburn could arguably fall under the same category as Huddersfield this campaign, Tony Mowbray’s men managing to push for promotion out of the second tier even with the departure of previous star striker Adam Armstrong to Southampton. 


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Somehow, even with that void, Tony Mowbray’s men look even more dangerous up top through the obvious quality of Ben Brereton-Diaz. But, in former Manchester City youth player Tyrhys Dolan, an unpredictability in attack from the young winger has left Championship defenders in a trance this season. 


His strike in a 2-0 win over Reading shows off Dolan at his best, unafraid to run at defenders with skill and pace before firing into the bottom corner. Dolan is a hard player to contain, moving one way and the other before the opposition defender can even process what has just happened. 


A player with obvious pedigree, his introduction to football from a young age coming courtesy of Manchester City, he doesn’t act like a prima-donna – he knows his obvious set of skills, a nutmeg very often his calling card, and pulls them off at the perfect point to give his side an edge going forward. 


With four goals and three assists from 30 played this season, there’s a lot of raw potential in Dolan for the future. This has seen Premier League clubs circle for the dynamic attacker, both Tottenham and West Ham interested in Dolan’s services.


However, with Brighton also keen on swooping for Blackburn’s number 10, a move to Graham Potter’s men could see more immediate first team minutes for the Manchester-born forward. 


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With both Jan Paul Van Hecke and Reda Khadra both at Blackburn on loan from the Seagulls, this relationship fostering between the two clubs could see Potter try his luck with one of the Championship’s most eye-catching youngsters. 


By: Kelan Sarson / @SarsonKelan


Sheffield Utd – Jayden Bogle (21)


The fact that Jayden Bogle is even being mentioned in the same conversation as Djed Spence and Isaiah Jones as the best right-back in the Championship speaks volumes of his recent form, and during his third full season in the second tier, it has become abundantly clear that he has eclipsed this level by all accounts.


Bogle’s move to Bramall Lane for Premier League football from Derby County proved to be a step too soon in 2020.


However, he has since matured from a skilful, exciting yet defensively frail player to a physically superior specimen when faced up against the majority of wide forwards whilst honing the technical prowess that earned him Premier League status.


There was a lot of talk about Bogle’s talent when he first arrived in the top-flight, but he struggled to find his footing in the team with George Baldock a mainstay on the right of The Blades’ back five.


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This season, the 21-year-old has made that position his own, bettering Baldock with his incessant energy and outstanding composure further upfield.


Now, the wealth of English right-backs shining at the top level, and the dearth of other options at Crystal Palace and Everton in that area offers an opportunity for Bogle to quietly go about his business and adapt to the Premier League without the added expectation that came before. 


By: Brad Jones / @bradjonessport


Millwall – Billy Mitchell (21)


A local lad making quite the impact for his club, Orpington-born Billy Mitchell is destined for great things in the future. 


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He was even known way before breaking through into the Millwall first team set-up, scoring a screamer in the FA Youth Cup for The Lions against Tottenham – taking the ball after being set up, leathering a hard shot right into the top corner from some distance. 


Mitchell would go on to excel throughout the youth set-up, making his first team debut against Wigan during the 2018/19 season after impressing as a youngster. He’s now a clear fan favourite at The Den, praised for his relentless energy in the middle of the pitch with a clear standout from his game being the engine he offers Gary Rowett’s men centrally. 


Still only 21 years of age, he’s managed to accumulate 47 appearances overall for The Lions giving him vast amounts of experience where other players of his age bracket might seek loan football to put their name out there.


He even has one solitary Millwall strike in the first team, rifling a goal home in a 4-1 win over Bristol City in May of last year after a pinball in the box allowed Mitchell to score. 


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With Millwall a few points shy of the play-offs, Mitchell could well be a top tier player for The Lions in the future. But, when his name is circulated more, expect a Premier League club who need a hard-working midfielder to come calling. 


Kelan Sarson / @SarsonKelan


Bristol City – Antoine Semenyo (22)


There have been certain games this season that make you think, where would Bristol City be without Antoine Semenyo? It’s a question that has been asked a lot about Ivan Toney at Brentford in recent times, and it would not be a surprise to see Semenyo fill those boots if Toney was to move on this summer.


Whilst the 22-year-old isn’t the consistent marksman Brentford have come to rely on, he more than makes up for his streaky scoring form with creative output and overall attacking contribution to an otherwise unimaginative Robins side.


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There are times when Semenyo is simply unplayable, winning games all on his own with frightening pace and power to occupy multiple defenders and the precise end product to beat them.


Semenyo can also play out wide despite being most effective in central areas, hence why Brighton and West Ham would be viable options for him.


The combined quality he has in front of goal and when crossing from wide is reminiscent of Jarrod Bowen at 22, and this versatility would make the Bristol City academy product an asset for a host of top-flight clubs.


With that being said, injuries have had a notable impact on the forward’s progression this season, so a full term in the Championship would do Semenyo the world of good before what feels like the inevitable next step arises. 


By: Brad Jones / @bradjonessport


Birmingham – Jordan James (17)


A club known for producing fine young talent, the obvious example being Jude Bellingham’s career exploding for both Borussia Dortmund and England, Birmingham have another youngster tipped for greatness in Jordan James. 


Still only 17 years of age, the youngest player on this list, he has clocked up an impressive 17 first team appearances for Lee Bowyer’s lacklustre Blues this season.


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His ascent to making his debut for the first team was sudden, going from the U18s to the U23s quickly before Bowyer opted to give the teenager an opportunity to impress within the first-team fold. 


Always eager to learn more and put the hard work in, James’ substitution onto the field against Bristol City in November of last year was all that hard work paying off. Bowyer praised his short cameo, commending James’ constant want to pass the ball forward and make opportunities arise instead of cowering away under the spotlight. 


He would be afforded his first start for The Blues a few games after, standing in for some major absentees in Gary Gardner and Ryan Woods. Yet, he showed a calm head again and his accomplished performance saw him put pen to paper on a professional contract right after the full-time whistle was blown against Blackpool. 


With Birmingham’s reputation on the rise in terms of producing top-quality youth products, expect a Premier League club to test the water to see if they can poach the youngster away from The Blues. 


By: Kelan Sarson / @SarsonKelan


Coventry – Callum O’Hare (23)


There aren’t many players who have been as central to their team’s success this season than Callum O’Hare, and as a result of that, combined with the low socks, the regularity with which he is fouled and the Aston Villa connection, many are touting the playmaker as Jack Grealish 2.0.


Player Analysis: Callum O’Hare


The former Villa academy graduate finds himself at a similar crossroads to where Grealish was this time last year, where a move upwards would relinquish his ability to single-handedly steer the momentum of a team like he does at Coventry City.


With that being said, O’Hare still undoubtedly has the quality to be of value to many Premier League clubs, though a few feasible transfers would require moving parts for him to take up an integral role in the short-term.


James Maddison at Leicester City, Conor Gallagher at Crystal Palace and Philippe Coutinho at Villa are all examples of players whose future hang in the balance (especially in the case of loanees Gallagher and Coutinho), who occupy roles in their respective teams that O’Hare is capable of making an impact within.


These clubs are three of many that would benefit from the 23-year-old’s infectious work ethic and eagerness to receive the ball and play on the front foot at all times, and whether it’s an instant place in their starting eleven or a gradual phase into a first team that presents itself, Callum O’Hare will be playing Premier League football very soon. 


By: Brad Jones / @bradjonessport

Preston – Emil Riis Jakobsen (23)


Preston’s lanky Danish striker is the next on the list, scoring 13 goals this season in 39 appearances for North End. Originally with Derby as a youngster – scoring goals galore for The Rams at U23 level – the Danish frontman would have to return to his native Denmark to make a name for himself in the men’s game. 


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After a quiet first season with Preston after signing from Randers FC, he has now exploded into life. Riis Jakobsen was the bright spark under the short-lived tenure of Frankie McAvoy, now an integral component to North End’s revival under the guidance of Ryan Lowe. 


For a player of his great height, he could be seen as a one-trick pony. Yet, in a 3-0 win against Middlesbrough last season, it was a brilliant solo strike showcasing his outstanding mobility which killed the contest. This season, however, he’s become a saviour for those associated with Deepdale when the clock is ticking.


Taking the ball down after a Middlesbrough chance was denied, his presence allowed Daniel Johnson the freedom to run through at goal. Alert to a potential Boro error, the ball luckily finds the Danish striker who slots home in the final ten minutes of the contest. 


It has become a reoccurring theme, an unbelievable volley at Deepdale salvaging a draw against Bristol City whilst an 89th minute winner against Bournemouth in March saw three points snatched from the jaws of defeat. Will a Premier League club take a punt on Preston’s new hero? 


By: Kelan Sarson / @SarsonKelan


QPR – Sam Field (23)


What Patrick Vieira is building at Crystal Palace feels a lot like a few Football Manager saves of mine in which the best of the EFL is exploited due to the negligence of most other Premier League teams to delve into what is a lucrative market.


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This season, Marc Guehi and Michael Olise have thrived on the back of impressive seasons in the second tier, and QPR midfielder Sam Field could well follow suit.


With Cheikhou Kouyate and Luka Milivojevic into their thirties, Palace are in need of a long-term facilitator who feeds more progressive teammates further forward and fills in for aggressive actions from centre-backs when necessary, whilst destroying everything in the space between defence and midfield, and that is very much Field’s arena.


Switch Ilias Chair and Chris Willock for Eberechi Eze and Wilfried Zaha and the role is almost a carbon copy for the 23-year-old, who is a more mobile, all-action alternative to what is currently available at Selhurst Park.


Although the likelihood of The Rs earning promotion has dramatically decreased in recent weeks, Field has continued to show his top-flight credentials. Many teams will be looking towards Chair and Willock if Mark Warburton’s men don’t go up, but a move for the former West Brom man could be equally fruitful. 


By: Brad Jones / @bradjonessport


Reading – Tom Holmes (22)


Another graduate through the academy is the next pick, Tom Holmes has impressed for Reading over a number of seasons at just 22 years of age. 


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Despite being loaned out down the unconventional route – a season at KSV Roeselare not everyone’s expected choice of loan move – Holmes is now a first team regular for a side troubled by financial issues and fan discontent this season. 


Yet, in Holmes, The Royals fans are fully behind their homegrown talent with grumbles directed elsewhere. The grim reality of Reading’s predicament, precariously perched above the drop zone, is lessened by the presence of Holmes – a vocal contingent at Reading accusing their players of dropping their tools too often this season, though Holmes never falls into this bracket. 


Moreover, the passivity of others in the Reading camp isn’t felt whatsoever when watching Holmes. Reading’s number three is passionate and eager to fight for the badge, winning 130 duels this season for his team.


He even has a goal to his name now for The Royals, an acrobatic goal from a corner opening the scoring on the day versus Hull and Holmes’ celebration was that of pure ecstasy – running to the East Stand at the Select Car Leasing Stadium, taking it all in. 


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With Nottingham Forest keen on tempting Holmes away from Reading, it wouldn’t be out of the ordinary if another suitor in title winners-elect Fulham tried to tempt him away too to bolster their defensive options for the top flight. 


By: Kelan Sarson / @SarsonKelan


Blackpool – Shayne Lavery (23)


They may have conceded less than Manchester United and West Ham this season, but Burnley find themselves stuck in the bottom three in large part because of their blunt, one-dimensional attack, even with the January signing of Wout Weghorst, and the signing of Blackpool’s Shayne Lavery would go a long way to amending such an alarming issue.


There are shades of Danny Ings in the manner Lavery plays on the shoulder of the last man and is explosive over short distances to get in behind or work an angle to create goal-scoring opportunities.


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Although it could be argued that the Northern Ireland international doesn’t offer a great deal else, it is his movement and raw goalscoring ability that The Clarets are so desperately in need of.


After all, Burnley average 0.79 goals per 90 in the league this season, Lavery has netted 0.52p90 on his own in an impressive Blackpool frontline alongside Josh Bowler and Jerry Yates among others.


Irrespective of which division Sean Dyche’s men find themselves in next season, the 23-year-old would be an important asset for a club that have nurtured the uncontainable mould of forward, such as Andre Gray and Ings, who are constantly on the prowl with a poacher’s instincts in the penalty area, and the Blackpool man feels like the next in line to take on that mantle at Turf Moor. 


By: Brad Jones / @bradjonessport


Featured Image: @GabFoligno / William Early – Getty Images / Zac Goodwin – PA Images