The majority of the Premier League appears to overlook the Championship as a viable recruitment pool, often favouring talents from foreign top flights.
Breaking that mould however, Newcastle United snapped up two of the Championship’s hottest prospects last summer, wrapping up deals for Nottingham Forest duo Karl Darlow and Jamaal Lascelles, set to move to St. James’ Park in summer 2015.
With that in mind, here’s FIVE more second-tier stars the Magpies should be keeping an eye on after their impressive starts to the current campaign.
Technically not a Championship player but certainly one worth keeping an eye on, Chelsea’s loanee striker Patrick Bamford has amassed an impressive return of 29 goals in 69 appearances throughout the Football League.
That includes a prolific loan spell at MK Dons, where the 21 year-old produced a one-in-two strike rate amid his 37 League One outings.
He’s yet to reproduce that lethality in the second tier, albeit often reduced to more of a cameo role, netting eight in 21 on loan to Derby County for the second half of last season and three in eleven since moving to Middlesbrough in the summer.
Many of the England U21’s finishes have been noteworthy however, such as this strike against Brighton last season:
Or this diving header against Yeovil Town:
Bearing no outstanding height, strength or power, the former Nottingham Forest product would need some beefing up to be effective in the top flight – something he admitted to last February.
But technically, he’s a real talent and if first team opportunities remain slim at Bamford’s parent club, Newcastle would be wise to take the young poacher off Chelsea’s hands. Here’s a look at the 6 foot 1 striker in action:
The Blues are infamous for their money-making loan machine and would likely be prepared to sell Bamford for any sum that significantly improves on their original £1.5million investment.
Newcastle were linked with Nathan Redmond during the summer and it could be worth reviving their interest after the Norwich City winger’s impressive start to the season.
The 20 year-old’s no goals and three assists in 15 Championship appearances may be rather ordinary output, but statistically, he’s one of the most impressive attackers in the division. Redmond’s not only at the top of the Championship’s dribbling charts:
But his 3.2 chances created per match (represented as key passes) is the third-best return in the league:
A regular for England across the junior levels, amassing nine goals and 54 caps from the U16s to U21s, the former Birmingham youngster’s development has been monitored by top Premier League sides for some time, including Manchester City and Liverpool. Here’s a look at Redmond in action:
Having shown glimpses of his quality in the top flight last season, amid the Canaries’ relegation campaign, and now excelling in the Championship, if Norwich don’t bounce back to the Premier League this year its likely Redmond will leave.
The Magpies could certainly do with some added quality out wide. But having attracted interest from a variety of clubs over the last few years, Newcastle could quickly find themselves eclipsed in the pursuit for Redmond.
When Ipswich Town lost star full-back Aaron Cresswell to West Ham this summer, many feared the worst. But the Tractor Boys have already found a more than adequate replacement in 21 year-old Tyrone Mings.
A superfluous run of form at the start of the season saw the left-back claim the Championship’s Player of the Month award for September having bagged assists against Brighton and Wigan, but his performances at the other end of the pitch have been equally impressive, as detailed below:
Indeed, it’s the former Chippenham Town youngster’s ability to contribute equally in attack and defence, creating 22 scoring opportunities in 16 appearances, that’s earning him such rave reviews.
Measuring in at a whopping 6 foot 3, Mings already had the physique to handle the rigors of the English top flight. Resultantly, he’s attracting interest from a number of Premier League clubs, including Arsenal, Manchester United and Everton:
— Tribal Football (@tribalfootball) November 13, 2014
There’s still time for the Magpies to weigh in, but having only penned a three-year contract in September, convincing Ipswich to sell will likely take a large fee.
There are certainly better-known strikers in the Championship but Igor Vetokele has been like a one-man team since joining Charlton Athletic from FC Copenhagen in the summer.
Indeed, the Angola international has netted 40% of the Addicks’ league goals this season as they sit just a point off the play-off standings, a contribution only matched throughout the Championship by Ipswich’s Daryl Murphy:
The 22 year-old has bagged eight goals in 13 starts, despite continually battling injury problems, and a run of five goals in his inaugural five Championship outings won Vetokele the Player of the Month award for August.
That includes this powerful header against Reading last weekend, securing Charlton a 1-0 win:
Here’s a clip of Velokete in action for Copenhagen, where he amassed 16 goals in 43 appearances in the space of two seasons:
Charlton are currently enjoying strong form under new manager Bob Peeters, but the chances of promotion remain relatively slim.
Considering how exceptionally the 5 foot 8 forward has already taken to the English game, Vetokele represents a transfer punt that could pay off dividends for the Magpies.
Blackburn Rovers are one of the favourites to go up this season and the performances of midfielder Tom Cairney, who won the Player of the Year award at Ewood Park last season, will be a significant factor in their promotion push.
The 23 year-old playmaker has started the season strongly, bagging two goals and four assists in 16 appearances – including this wonder-strike against Cardiff City:
He’s also amongst the Championship’s best when it comes to creating chances from the middle of the park:
…and boasts an impressive pass completion rate of 87.5%.
Cairney’s been knocking on the Premier League door for some time, having previously gained promotion with Hull City in 2013, before being sent on loan to Ewood Park and subsequently joining Rovers permanently last January. Here’s a look at the former Scotland U21 in action:
If Blackburn don’t make it to the top flight this season, Cairney may feel compelled to seek pastures new. But the Lancashire side are backed by some impressive financial muscle and will feel under no obligation to sell.