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

For those of you who are yet to read part one of this series, please go back and read that to get the gist of this article, and a better understanding of twelve more outstanding Championship prospects who we believe will overcome what we’ll call the Dwight Gayle divide, bettering those deemed too good for the second tier but unable to make an impact any higher up the footballing pyramid.


There have been a few significant changes to the outlook of this series since the first edition was published, these come in the form of Fulham’s promotion and the relegations of Barnsley, Peterborough United and Derby County. But for now, these are still Championship players and with that, their pursuit of prolonged success in the Premier League remains.


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


Feast your eyes upon this marvellous set of players whilst you can Championship fans, they won’t be here for much longer.


Nottingham Forest – Brennan Johnson


This might be seen as the far too obvious pick for Nottingham Forest, but Brennan Johnson’s performances for his boyhood club this campaign show a player that is ready-made for the high intensity of Premier League football.


He is a key player under Steve Cooper, a manager who has rejuvenated everyone at the City Ground with the mood around Nottingham Forest far too subdued for too long.


Now, with players such as Brennan Johnson who constantly battle and want to drive forward, the belief is back that Forest can be a Premier League club once more after years in the doldrums.


Brennan Johnson: The Nottingham Forest Youngster Exceeding Expectations At His Boyhood Club


He is a game-changer at just 20 years of age, maturing on loan at Lincoln City at a lightning speed before being thrown straight back in to the deep end by starting for the club where his roots lie. With 15 goals and 10 assists this season – his only full season at the level – he remains unfazed by the bright lights of the big stage.


Therefore, a whole host of Premier League clubs will test the water to see if they can tempt Johnson away from a club he’s been at since a child. Brentford’s vocal admiration saw links, Forest allegedly turning down big money advances from The Bees, whilst the likes of Leeds and Newcastle are too interested in the Wales international.


Leeds could well be a worthwhile move for Johnson if he opts to test himself higher up, the high-intensity Leeds operate with could work to his strengths alongside their effectiveness on the counter-attack through Jack Harrison and Dan James.

By: Kelan Sarson / @SarsonKelan


Middlesbrough – Isaiah Jones


When a young player rises to stardom, there is almost always a spell of gradual progression that allows the world to acclimatise to their talent, but in rare special cases, that of Middlesbrough’s Isaiah Jones included, the jump from being an unknown entity to a player with palpable Premier League pedigree has been almost instant.


The combination of electric pace, excellent composure and a consistent end product has seen Jones earn a reputation that sees opposition teams double up on the wing-back, but with a repertoire of attributes that is almost unpreventable and a relationship with Anfernee Dijksteel and Matt Crooks down the right that is equally effective, it’s never that easy. Even after 89 minutes of faultless defending, Jones will still find a way.


To hold a presence that opposing players fear and team mates rely on for calmness and quality under pressure is incredibly unique, and the 22-year-old continues to establish himself as the primary threat for Chris Wilder’s men.


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Jones’ emergence this season is made even more spectacular by his overall skill set which is primarily designed for counter-attacking football, but he can also unravel a low block with trickery and precision from wide which will be vital when he makes it to the top level.


A move to Brentford would suit Jones’ style more than most, but what Wilder is building at The Riverside feels fit for a Premier League return if not this year than next, so don’t be surprised to see him stay put and star on the big stage in the red and white of Boro.


By: Brad Jones / @bradjonessport


Luton Town – Elijah Adebayo


Luton’s heroics this season – The Hatters in an unbelievable fifth spot at the time of writing – might well come at a cost – all of the stars from his unbelievable campaign will now be targets for other clubs.


The main name at the moment is Elijah Adebayo, the former Walsall man quiet in his first half season in the second tier before bursting into life this campaign at Kenilworth Road with 16 goals from 40 played up top for The Hatters.


He has become a clinical striker for The Hatters this campaign, an opening day header against Peterborough United showing off his knack of being in the right place at the right time to ensure a well-worked move opened the scoring on the day and his account for the campaign.


His height advantage alone has seen him score goals this season, a header in an early season draw at Derby saw Adebayo leap higher than the swarm of Derby shirts around him – the Derby keeper in no-man’s land, Adebayo wheeling away in celebration.


Nathan Jones’ Luton Town: From Betrayal to the Brink of the Premier League


After being dismissed by Fulham as a youngster, Adebayo has had to drop down and ply his trade. Now, with Luton, he has found a new home at another London-based club. Will Luton’s main talisman up top want to act upon his recent hot streak and move away from Luton with Premier League clubs sniffing?


As much as Luton are defying the odds now, would there be an element of regret on Adebayo’s end not to try his luck? Newcastle are one potential suitor for Adebayo’s services, waiting in the wings to see if they can sign Luton’s main man up top.


By: Kelan Sarson / @SarsonKelan


West Brom – Taylor Gardner-Hickman


Heading into the 2021/22 campaign, West Brom were one of the teams who looked certain to be in pursuit of promotion at this stage. Oozing players with experience of excelling in the Championship, everything seemed to be going to plan as The Baggies occupied fourth spot at the turn of the year.


Now, with the team in 13th having won five in 19 in 2022, there aren’t many members of the West Brom squad that Premier League teams will be eager to poach this summer, but 20-year-old Taylor Gardner-Hickman should undoubtedly be one of them.


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Amongst the immense disappointment, the West Brom academy graduate has been the sole initiator of optimism and drive through the middle third when others have offered little, be it in any role across the midfield three or on either side of their 3-4-1-2 system.


This determination to succeed applies to all aspects of Gardner-Hickman’s game, which allows him to orchestrate play from deep or carry possession to make an impact further forward whilst maintaining the energy to track back and cover himself well. Hence, why his skill set translates from midfield to wing-back so well.


The fact that it is impossible to pin him to a single position has limited the youngster’s minutes in senior football so far, but any team out of the top six willing to give Gardner-Hickman a chance in their first team will get an incredibly valuable asset across the board, much in the same way James Milner has forged an impressive career.


By: Brad Jones / @bradjonessport


Stoke City – Jacob Brown


Tyrese Campbell might have been the most prolific Stoke striker in recent years, but with Campbell’s recent injury issues, fans down at Stoke City have a new reliable source of goals in Jacob Brown up top.


Thirteen goals this season for Stoke even saw Steve Clarke take notice, handing the former Barnsley forward a taste of international football with his adopted nation of Scotland.


Even with The Potters’ promotion efforts going cold this campaign, continued poor form leaving them in 12th spot even with recent wins over Sheffield United, Blackburn, QPR and West Brom, Jacob Brown’s performances haven’t dipped.


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A 3-0 win over Swansea in Ferbruary, Stoke’s first big win at the time after a barrage of losses and draws, saw Jacob Brown score the game killer at 3-0 – his effort at 1-0 hand balled off the line too for Lewis Baker’s spot-kick. His strike in this contest was a classy finish, an arrowed finish into the far corner too clever for Fisher to deny.


Another goal against Peterborough was almost a carbon copy, quick feet after making room, too tricky for the Posh defenders before another well-placed finish found the corner for 1-0. Stoke would have to make do with a point in the end, but Brown impressed once more.


With a few Premier League sides looking goal-shy in their last few matches, there’s no doubt teams such as Brighton will keep an eye on players like Jacob Brown to bolster their attacking options in the summer.


By: Kelan Sarson / @SarsonKelan


Bournemouth – Jordan Zemura


Despite sitting second in the Championship table, Bournemouth have had an inconsistent season by many accounts, especially since the turn of the year. There have been a lot of questions raised towards the manner in which they continue to stumble towards promotion, but said scepticism has in no way being aimed towards their integration of previously unknown academy products.


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Mark Travers has excelled between the sticks whilst Jaidon Anthony has been similarly impressive on the wing, but it is his partner in crime down the left, Jordan Zemura, that has shone brightest for The Cherries.


From the get-go, the 22-year-old’s electric pace and fearlessness with and without the ball has been a constant source of success going forward for Scott Parker’s men and an area to avoid in opposition attacks. Bournemouth started the season unbeaten in 15 matches until Zemura picked up an injury, when they won just one in seven in his absence.


This theme has continued throughout, with the left-back losing only thrice and winning in 20 of his 30 league appearances. It is a testament to his impact in so many areas, getting the best out of Anthony with creative quality and keeping the entire left flank under control with increasing competence, that a team on the brink of the top-flight is so dependent on him in his debut season.


Expect to see him stay at Bournemouth next term and light up the Premier League in the same effortless way he did in the Championship. From there, the opportunities appear endless.


By: Brad Jones / @bradjonessport


Cardiff City – Rubin Colwill


Amidst the deflated feeling at Cardiff City this season, high expectations for a promotion challenge crushed after Mick McCarthy’s torrid spell in charge earlier in the season, things have started to look up slowly but surely under Steve Morison at the helm.


A constant source of joy even under the doomed tenure of McCarthy was the youth coming through at Cardiff, both Rubin Colwill and Isaak Davies the cream of the crop. They even combined in Cardiff’s FA Cup tie at Liverpool in early February, a surging and fearless run from Davies setting up Colwill to rifle a shot past Kelleher.


Rubin Colwill: A Shining Light in Cardiff City’s Nightmarish Campaign


Five goals this season in the Championship shows the potential the young Welshman has, everyone with connections to The Bluebirds singing his praises.


A recent away goal at QPR showed his beaming confidence, Colwill stepping up to take a free-kick in Cardiff’s changed strip of salmon pink and curling it right into the far corner. He would also net his first goal for Wales shortly after, scoring in a friendly versus the Czech Republic.


With other noticeable prospects including Joel Bagan and Eli King, Colwill is the pick of the bunch and the one that could garner a hefty price tag if Cardiff ever decide to cash in if needs must.


By: Kelan Sarson / @SarsonKelan


Swansea – Joel Piroe


When Joel Piroe arrived in South Wales from PSV Eindhoven last summer, it was evident that Swansea had secured a talented 22-year-old forward, though consistent goals were seen as a possibility rather than a promise. In a window which saw the departures of Andre Ayew and Jamal Lowe, who combined for 30 of the club’s 56 goals last campaign, that wasn’t enough.


Now, with 22 goals in 43 league games under his belt, the man brought in to steady a sinking strike force could well be the one to steer them back on track towards the Premier League.


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What stands out in particular from Piroe’s debut season in England has been his capacity to instantly hit the ground running – he contributed to 14 goals (10 goals, four assists) in the opening 18 matches – and build relationships with teammates that have single-handedly helped Russell Martin’s men navigate a tough season of transition as a fixture in the bottom half following a fourth placed finish in 2020/21.


In those first months, Piroe played in-tandem with Jamie Paterson, dropping deep to interchange passes before holding up the ball and bringing others into play on the occasions they couldn’t unlock the opposition all on their own. He has since struck up an equally fruitful relationship with Michael Obafemi playing off the right in a 3-4-2-1 setup.


This variance within his game also translates to finishing, with a left foot capable of catching a wicked cross cleanly on the volley or caressing the ball home from outside the box, and a right foot and heading ability of similar standard.


It’s safe to say Joel Piroe has many shown many signs of a top-level striker at Swansea, whether a current one season wonder can continue his purple patch remains to be seen.


By: Brad Jones / @bradjonessport


Derby County – Jason Knight


A whole host of Derby players could’ve been picked here, a number of the youth players at The Rams this season becoming heroes in the wake of the club’s fall to League One and the constant fear of liquidation – Louie Sibley winning the contest single-handedly against Peterborough in February, the youth delivering in crunch moments.


Even Festy Obosele would have been an option, the tireless wing-back and winger option now a Udinese player in the summer when his Rams contract expires.


Another departure that could well happen as a result of the fallout Derby are experiencing is Jason Knight, the 21-year-old consistently in the first-team fold at Pride Park way before the intense media coverage of Wayne Rooney and the potential of extinction.


He is another tireless asset to the team, unafraid to put his body on the line and get dirty for The Rams’ cause. He’s a battling presence centrally, always into the tackle whilst also providing goals from the middle of the park too.


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A well-rounded midfielder, he hasn’t quite been as impactful this season – a bizarre training ground injury sustained from his boss ruling him out in the early games – but you’d expect a club from the Premier League to sniff around especially if Derby have to sell for a cut-price.


Newcastle and Leeds have stated interest in the Irishman in the past, so you’d imagine this interest will be reignited come the transfer window opening in June.


By: Kelan Sarson / @SarsonKelan


Hull – Jacob Greaves


At just 21 years of age, Jacob Greaves already has 112 Football League appearances to his name. He racked up 29 in League Two during the 2019/20 season, 39 in League One the following year and every single minute of Hull City’s 44 fixtures so far this term at the time of writing. The natural next step feels imminent.


The arrival of new owners and with that a new lease of life at the MKM Stadium has given Hull fans hope that they can retain Greaves alongside fellow homegrown talent Keane Lewis-Potter, but these are two players destined for the top, and the former is about as well equipped to make the step up as any under-23 player in the division.


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Shota Arveladze’s men are one of only four clubs yet to concede more than three goals in a match this season, the only team from the Championship’s bottom half, and Greaves deserves huge plaudits for his discipline (just three yellow cards this season), his composure in backs-to-the-wall scenarios and a calmness to carry the ball out of defence that is otherwise absent.


Moving forward, Greaves works particularly well in a back three which enables him to gallop forward and create overloads down the left, offering space and great service to the team’s most potent threat in Lewis-Potter.


In a similar system where defenders are trusted in possession with speed and dynamism aplenty ahead of them, such as Brighton or Brentford, Greaves has all the attributes to thrive, and many to transfer as he proved playing in a 4-3-3 during last season and the first half of this. Premier League clubs are calling and the centre-back might just have the answers as soon as this summer.


By: Brad Jones / @bradjonessport


Fulham – Fabio Carvalho


With Fulham’s relentless nature in the second tier this season, The Cottagers top of the Championship with 99 goals scored, a whole host of players could’ve been picked as a potential Premier League star of the future. The obvious choice is, however, Fabio Carvalho – the young Portuguese attacking midfielder nearly joining Liverpool before talks seemingly broke down in January.


Carvalho looks a ready-made star of the future, already dazzling Championship defences with mazy runs as a crucial part of Fulham’s unwavering energy up top at just 19 years of age. With Jurgen Klopp favouring youth from time to time – the likes of Curtis Jones amongst others fielded irregularly by the German coach – rumours are now stating that this is a done deal for the summer.


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With nine goals and seven assists this season from 34 played, Carvalho has the potential to further his career at Liverpool and advance under the guidance of Jurgen Klopp and feature alongside mainstays such as Mo Salah and new exciting talent Luis Diaz.


Fulham won’t begrudge his departure, a key component to Marco Silva’s men steamrolling a notoriously competitive division who can only get better at Anfield.

By: Kelan Sarson / @SarsonKelan


Barnsley – Callum Styles


For fans of other clubs, the confirmation of Barnsley’s relegation on April 22nd sparked a feeling of opportunism above all. This squad is a goldmine of Championship quality, some of which made it into the play-offs under Valerien Ismael in 2020/21, and there may even be bottom half Premier League interest in their key figures, Callum Styles included.


Styles’ effortless nature across almost all facets of his game lends itself well to any circumstance, be it a dazzling dribble through three opponents or a coordinated press to retain possession high up, and he often seems to be one step ahead of everyone else despite conducting each contribution in such a casual manner.


Player Analysis: Callum Styles


Don’t be fooled, however. The 22-year-old has an innate tenacity, an everlasting energy supply and a ferocious left foot that often come to fruition as games wear on.


Such versatility has seen him occupy left wing, right back and anywhere in between with relative success this season. After emerging emphatically last campaign, he has continued to shine and paper over some cracks as best he can this time around.


It would be a punt for top-flight teams to go for Styles on the surface, even in spite of his proven track record in the second tier, so expect to see the Hungary international at the top end of the Championship again next season, where standards something close to those he set in 2020/21 would put him firmly in contention for a Premier League move.


By: Brad Jones / @bradjonessport


Featured Image: @GabFoligno / NurPhoto / Sebastian Frej / MB Media / Getty Images