Top 10: Best young League 2 players


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10: Harry Pell (AFC Wimbledon)

Harry Pell has been a key figure for the Dons this season, getting on the score sheet four times for Neil Ardley’s side as Wimbledon secured their League 2 status with one game to spare this time out.

Pell, 22, spent time at five clubs in the past three years before finding himself at Kingsmeadow but looks to have finally found his club in Wimbledon.

He has been the heartbeat of the Dons midfield and was their joint second top scorer this season with Jack Midson leading the club’s scoring charts on 7.

9: Curtis Nelson (Plymouth)

The 20-year-old Plymouth youth graduate has been one of the few sturdy things at the club in recent years. A club regular since the year the Pilgrims suffered League 1 relegation (Nelson just 16 at the time), Nelson has established himself as a key man already, despite his young age, missing just two games this term.

Nelson was given the Argyle armband in April 2013, aged 19, in the club’s win over Cheltenham, in doing so he was the youngest Plymouth Skipper since Norman Piper in 1967.

Plymouth’s young star was called up to the England under 18 squad for their match against Italy in April 2011 and would win the Green’s Young Player of the Year award the same year.

8: Luke James (Hartlepool)

After a stuttering start to his Hartlepool career, Luke James finally found his feet this season. Six goals in 34 games in the previous two seasons has been dramatically improved with the 19-year-old forward scoring 13 in 38 this time out.

Despite Hartlepool’s relegation from League 1 last season, James was named the division’s apprentice of the year in 2013.

The Pools failed to return to the third tier at the first attempt, finishing way down the table in 19th but without James it could have been far worse. Boss Colin Cooper will be hoping that James’ form continues to improve as Hartlepool try again next season.

7: Jed Wallace (Portsmouth)

Portsmouth are not a club who have much to shout about in recent years but Jed Wallace is one person that make the Pompey chimes ring again.

The 20-year-old midfielder finished as top scorer at Fratton Park with seven goals and was also the third highest provider with four assists, missing just one game this campaign.

He earned a call up to the England Under 19 squad in 2013 and this season’s form will have Wallace targeting the Under 21’s next time out.

JW

6: Zeli Ismail (Burton Albion, on loan from Wolves)

Ismail has not been in the game long but he has been quick to make an impression on fans up and down the football league.

Following Wolves’ relegation to League 1, Kenny Jackett insisted Ismail would be part of his plans, but despite featuring nine times at the start of the campaign, he was loaned out to League 2 Burton Albion in January.

The loan would soon be extended to the end of the season and Ismail’s two goals and consistent performances secured the Brewers a League 2 play off spot.

Wolves Winger Ismail also spent time at MK Dons in 2012/13, making seven appearances.

5: Antoni Sarcevic (Fleetwood)

The Cod Army have been nothing short of brilliant this season, and if Fleetwood move on to brighter shores via the play offs then Antoni Sarcevic will take a lot of the credit.

League 2’s equivalent to Adnan Januzaj (Sarcevic is eligible for England, Italy and Serbia), the 22-year-old has impressed at Highbury since his summer move from Conference Chester.

The Manchester City youth product leads both the scoring and assist tally for Fleetwood this season with 13 goals and setting up five, no doubt attracting the attention of opposition clubs.

If Sarcevic does move on, Fleetwood will be hoping there is plenty more fish in the sea.

4: Sam Clucas (Mansfield)

A success story of Glenn Hoddle’s academy for released players in Jerez, Clucas has proved his worth by shining in Mansfield Yellow this season as the newly promoted to the football league club have secured their status for next term.

Clucas has finished top of the class. The 23-year-old is the club’s top scorer this season with eight goals from midfield from a total of just 37 shots, all of which have been on target, along with the two assists to his name.

Not bad for someone who was working in Debenhams in 2009.

3: Rhys Murphy (Dagenham and Redbridge)

Murphy has struggled since his 2012 release from Arsenal but now finally looks to have found his form.

The former Republic of Ireland Under 21 International never made the grade in North London and had two unsuccessful loan spells at Brentford and Preston, failing to score in 10 games in the two moves.

He had better luck at his first club since his Arsenal release, netting seven in 28 for Dutch second tier side Telstar but it is Dagenham where he has finally shown what he is capable of.

13 goals in 32 games meant that Murphy was voted the fourth best player in League 2 this season.

2: Scott Hogan (Rochdale)

Scott Hogan’s Rochdale career has not been conventional to say the least.

First signing for the club in 2010, Hogan was released at the end of the season without making an appearance for the Dale. After spending time at six clubs in three years across the non leagues including the likes of Woodley Sports (21 goals in 27), Stocksbridge (seven in 16) and Hyde (three in 11), he found himself back at Spotland

17 goals in 29 games for Rochdale saw him voted the third best player in League 2 this season, something Hogan would not have expected when he failed to score in five games for Halifax Town in 2011.

1: Sam Winnall (Scunthorpe)

League 2’s top scorer has had to wait for his moment in the spotlight. Overlooked at Wolves, making zero appearances in four years to then scoring just nine goals in four loan spells (seven of which at Burton Albion), it was bold for Scunthorpe to pin their promotion hopes on Winnall.

He has repaid the faith though, hitting 23 goals in 42 games as Scunny returned to League 1 at the first time of asking, finishing in third place.

Danger lies for the future of the Iron though, Winnall is only tied down to a one year contract so could find himself at another club next season if he is not signed on quickly.

SW

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