Last season’s PFA Championship Team of the Year was balanced and fair acknowledging twelve (Hull’s Michael Dawson and Middlesbrough’s Ayala both received an equal amount of votes) individuals who excelled from August through to May.
It was also somewhat lacking in inspiration with the notable absence of emerging youthful adventure who get bums off seats on chilly Wednesday evenings.
Hopefully that will change this term and though clubs pushing for promotion or involved in relegation scraps will always favour experience over callow promise there is sufficient budding talent for at least one to break through, make a name for himself, and become a fully-fledged superstar of the Championship. These five have the future at their feet.
Roofe’s 26 goals in League Two and 11 assists kept Oxford United’s promotion campaign buoyant last season but it was the explosive manner in which the 23 year old achieved the stats that truly impressed.
A £3m switch up to Leeds was deserving and inevitable and some audacious showings in pre-season have already assured the Elland Road faithful they’ve found a new hero.
A debut season reminiscent of Jermaine Beckford’s break-out campaign in 2007 is not beyond this pacy, confident force of nature who will be desperate to prove once and for all that West Brom were wrong to discard him back in the day.
You have to marvel at Manchester City’s good fortune albeit mixed with careful planning. After spending £200m on a state-of-the-art academy designed to hothouse first team stars for the 2020s they unveil a fine crop of prospects to tide them over in the meantime.
The likes of Alex Garcia, Brahim Diaz and Tosin Adarabioyo – among several others – are destined to grace Premier League pitches very soon as an exciting batch of young talent emerges.
Byrne perhaps – and it’s important to hedge bets at this stage – is a level below the gold star prodigies but that is no reflection on what he is capable of achieving in the game.
A versatile midfielder who is calm and incisive in possession yet willing to roll his sleeves up when required the 20 year old is precisely at the stage of development where such a loan will benefit him hugely. Blackburn fans will love him.
Not to be confused with Joao Carlos Teixeira now at Porto after an unhappy stint at Liverpool this is a Portuguese midfielder of similar age and potential who is experiencing the demands of English football for the first time. To that end Kevin Thelwell, Wolves’ head of development’ has already spoken of the need to ‘protect’ the 22 year old in certain games during his year-long loan but should the Benfica schemer prosper exciting times lie ahead for the West Midlands club.
Here is a player blessed with a nonchalant touch and eye for a pass who has represented his country right up to under 21s level and enjoyed a club debut in the Champions League. Barnsley bruisers and Rotherham rakers should present no problem.
The thrilling rise of this cultured playmaker was cruelly stalled by hamstring and shin problems that deprived Portman Road of his services for much of last season.
Now fully fit the 20 year old will be determined to re-establish his credentials as the Tractor Boys look to mount another promotion charge while repaying the faith shown in him by Mick McCarthy.
It’s no coincidence that Ipswich’s results picked up on his return last April and though a play-off spot was ultimately beyond them a full eight months of Bishop’s midfield probing promises much.
A frustrating enigma of breath-taking ability and flaws Aarons finally looks to have overcome his injury woes that have severely compromised a trajectory that at once brief stage could have taken the Jamaican-born winger all the way to this summer’s Euros.
Instead the St James Park congregation have had to settle for flashes of brilliance among the long absences and half-fit ineffectiveness which makes 2016/17 a defining season for the hot-heeled 20 year old.
The off-loading of Andros Townsend, Obertan and Thauvin bodes well for plenty of game-time and after a period of consideration it seems Rafa Benitez is happy to place his trust in Aarons to be his game-changer of choice.