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Who’s next? In search of the next Jamie Vardy…

Somewhere out there in the midst of the lower leagues lies British talent just waiting to be unearthed.

At MK Dons, Spurs found a star in Dele Alli – from League One to Premier League to full England debut in the wink of an eye.

At Leicester City, they have the explosive striking prowess of Jamie Vardy, who came through from non-league Stocksbridge Park Steels to FC Halifax, and then onto Fleetwood Town. Leicester paid just £1m plus add-ons for the England international, who scored in a record eleven consecutive Premier League matches to break Ruud van Nistelrooy’s record earlier this season.

At Southampton, they now have ex-Poole Town forward Charlie Austin. So there are players out there, but seemingly they make their way up the leagues first before a Premier League team will spend the money.

You can’t blame Premier clubs, either. Home grown talent is often more expensive than foreign players and with the “I want success now” reasoning, clubs don’t have the time anymore.

In the past, players like Ray Clemence, Kevin Keegan, Ian Rush, Peter Beardlsey, Les Ferdinand, Stan Collymore, Chris Waddle, Stuart Pearce, Ian Wright, Steve Bruce, Chris Smalling and Joe Hart, all played at either non-league or lower football league clubs before getting their big break.

Peterborough United’s Chairman, Darragh MacAnthony, believes clubs should look to the lower leagues for talent before signing foreign players. Speaking to BBC Radio Cambridgeshire in January, MacAnthony said Jamie Vardy and Dele Alli should serve as a wake-up call to big clubs about lower-league talent.

“Jamie Vardy and Dele Alli should have woken them all up,” he said.

“People talk about value for money but what they don’t realise is when you pay a fee for foreign players it’s the wages that come into it.”

MacAnthony also raised concerns about the amount of money being spent on foreign talent: “When you sign young boys from the Football League you might pay a serious transfer fee, but the wages are only £5,000 to £10,000 [a week].

“You add all that package up over a year, it’s a lot less than when you’re paying 50 to 80 grand a week for a foreign player.”

So who will one day make that leap to the Premier League? Here are five players making a name for themselves as future British talent…

Ademola Lookman

Charlton Athletic – Aged 18 – Forward/winger – Lookman joined Charlton’s academy in 2014 after signing from Waterloo FC, a youth football club based in the London Borough of Lambeth. His impressive goal scoring record for Charlton’s U18 and U21 teams led to him making a rapid rise through the Charlton academy ranks and he made his first-team debut for the Addicks on 3 November 2015. He scored his first goal for the club in a 3-2 defeat at Brighton & Hove Albion on 5 December 2015, and then followed that up with a brace in a 2-2 draw with Bolton Wanderers on 15 December 2015.

James Maddison

Coventry City (Now Norwich) – Aged 19 – Midfielder – Yes, it’s a bit of a cheat because he’s made it, but what have Norwich got for their money? After impressing for the U18s at the start of the 2013/14 season, Maddison was rewarded with a squad number and a place on the bench for the team’s trip to Stevenage on 5th October 2013. Maddison made his professional debut as a substitute on 13 August 2014 in a 2-1 League Cup loss to Cardiff City. He was handed his first league start for the following league game away to Oldham Athletic. He went on to score his first league goal for Coventry City with a free-kick in the first-half, his efforts were in vain as the Sky Blues went on to lose the game 4-1.

Callum Burton

Shrewsbury Town – Aged 19 – Goalkeeper – Burton has played for England at U16s, U17s and U18 level, impressing with his physique, calmness and leadership. Like Joe Hart, Burton is a product of the Shrewsbury Town academy, and cites the England No.1 as one of his idols. Has been loaned out a few times to gain the necessary experience, but is highly regarded as one for the future.

George Moncur

Colchester United – Aged 22 – Midfield – Moncur came through the West Ham United Academy after a spell with Tottenham Hotspur as a schoolboy and is the son of John Moncur. He made his professional debut in January 2012 when he joined League Two side AFC Wimbledon on loan. He signed a permanent contract with Colchester in November 2014. Moncur has represented England at U17 and U18 levels and has in all competitions this season made 32 appearances and scored 10 goals.

Stefan Payne

Dover Athletic – Aged 24 – Striker – He’s had a nomadic career to date, but is reportedly being closely watched by League One and Championship teams. Dover’s leading marksman from last season, he has 11 goals to his name so far this campaign. He has notched 31 goals in 65 appearances since joining The Whites from Hornchurch.

Article title: Who’s next? In search of the next Jamie Vardy…

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