Charlie Austin

Tim Sherwood and Swindon Town: ‘One of the Biggest Miscalculations the club has ever made’

November 10, 2016. A huddle of journalists are gathered at the ‘Imagine Cruising suite’ – the room where Swindon Town make their significant statements to the press, as opposed to the more ‘cosy’ area for the post-match evaluation.

All they have been told is at that half-past one Swindon will be making a ‘major announcement’. The press officer is eluded to what is about to happen just 10 minutes before the big moment of Tim Sherwood being named as the club’s director of football.

It was not immediately clear then that that would not only be the first time Sherwood addressed the media in person, but the last as well.

Swindon Town are the sort of club you would describe as ‘modest’, if you were trying to appear respectful, but mindful of causing offence to its loyal, but now disenchanted fan base.

Its finest hour came almost 50 years ago, with the 1969 League Cup win over Arsenal, and it has graced the Premier League only once, over two decades ago. They conceded over 100 goals, finished bottom (then 22nd), and got relegated again the season after.

Ever since, they have been trying to get back, without success. This season they got relegated back down to League Two, after escaping it in the spring of 2012.

Like many clubs of its stature, it predominantly prides itself not on league titles, or cup victories (minus 1969 of course), or, nowadays, even derby wins, but on the ‘we made him’ sort of badge of honour you get when a player achieves great things not at your club, but because of said club.

Those, too, are fading now. Even Charlie Austin, the true 21st-Century Swindon Town poster boy, poached from Poole Town in 2009, has had just one call-up to the England squad. He didn’t play.

Managers though are a different kettle of fish. Glenn Hoddle cut his managerial teeth in the West Country, guided the Robins to the Premier League, and went on to manage England, with a stint at Chelsea in the middle.

In 1989, Ossie Ardiles was in the dugout of the County Ground in a red tracksuit winning promotion to the first division with an Argentine blend of tiki-taka, 11 years post-World Cup ticker tape. The promotion shortly became a demotion due to financial irregularities, but as the memories of that sting, the on-the-pitch triumphs do not get forgotten.

Nor do the accolades of other ‘big names’ Lou Macari, Steve McMahon, a certain Paolo Di Canio or the coaching team of Dennis Wise and Gus Poyet, who sowed the seeds of a Swindon League Two promotion-winning campaign in 2007, before they upped sticks to Leeds and Paul Sturrock carried on from where they left off.

It was therefore a bold claim when now-chairman Lee Power described the appointment of Sherwood as: “One of the biggest appointments the club has ever made,” which was preceded by him being labelled “one of the top, young English managers.” Not modest statements for this modest club.

Two days after the unveiling, Swindon thrashed Charlton Athletic 3-0 to much fanfare, in front of the Sky Sports cameras. The assorted media stuck around for this post-match press conference at least, but their questions were answered by still-head coach Luke Williams, instead of the man recently given full control of “all football-related matters”, which consists of “transfers, tactics, and training,” as well, it would turn out, team talks.

The wins dried up, Sherwood never turned up, the non-local media stopped coming and Williams was answering press questions and facing fan forum backlash for a team that was no longer his.

If there was one manager you could say is no stranger to the cult following social media brings, Sherwood might be it. His Jack-the-Lad persona that saw him reach Vine ‘fame’ for throwing his trademark Gilet and kicking door-opening buttons was only exacerbated when the ‘Director of Football’ began an FA Cup first-round replay against Eastleigh in the stands and ended it in the dugout. The first, and only, time he did so.

The BBC pondered: “Does Tim Sherwood manage the Robins or not?” while JOE declared that: “Tim Sherwood has gone full Football Manager at Swindon Town.” The second jibe became remarkably literal in February.

Not managing actual football teams of course.

With Swindon hovering just above the relegation zone, reeling from a 1-0 loss at local rivals Bristol Rovers and in the middle of what would turn out to be a five-match losing streak, Sherwood appeared – doing a Q&A, not for the media, but for Squawka in a promotion for the computer game, Football Manager.

Four days later Swindon had, and lost, another derby – against Oxford. Sherwood was absent. Power told TalkSPORT on Valentine’s Day, no less, that firstly Sherwood’s hiring was “one million per cent an old pals act” and then revealed that Sherwood was not at the Oxford match as he was doing some “football business for that club” that could only be done on that day.

That was after Town fans had twigged that Sherwood’s birthday was the day after the Oxford game.

Williams was put back in charge of on-pitch activity but Sherwood was back in the stands for the trip to Bury the week after. That was until half-time, when Sherwood launched into a tirade at the referee, calling him a f****** mug for awarding the Shakers a penalty.

On February 23, he was slapped with a two-game stadium ban for his comments. Swindon won both of those games. The first time they achieved back-to-back victories in over a year.

He was back for the home game against Chesterfield. Swindon lost. The Robins didn’t win again until a home match against Millwall, 1-0. Sherwood stayed away from that one. Maybe if he stayed away every week Swindon would have survived.

Alas, they were relegated, which confined Swindon’s to next season’s League Two and, on June 14, just over seven months after arriving, Sherwood’s departure was confirmed.

“Tim’s gone.” Those were the cold words of Power on a hot summer’s day in Swindon at the introductory press conference for the club’s new manager, David Flitcroft. No clouds were in sight that day, not even the biggest one in the club’s recent history.

 

 

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Who have you voted Swindon Town’s greatest player of the 21st Century?

Relegation, Promotion and the threat of Administration, twice. The 21st Century has not been a boring one for Swindon Town fans but while 2000 onwards will be best remembered so far for Wembley heartbreak, more Wembley heartbreak, Paul Hart and Paolo Di Canio, who have been the players that put smiles on Swindon folks’ faces?

10) Paul Caddis: One of only eight players who stayed at Swindon following the side’s relegation from League One in 2011, Caddis was given the task of leading the club back from whence they came after taking over as captain from Oliver Risser that October.

His consistent high performances during that campaign were rewarded with a League Two winner’s medal and a spot in the League Two Team of the Year. He only missed seven league games, scoring four goals in those 39.

That season, and Caddis’ Swindon career, would end on a sour note though. Di Canio reportedly stripped Caddis as captain due to a “change of attitude” in the Scot.

Di Canio told BBC Wiltshire: “He’s not the same player, not the same attitude, so it’s time to make the decision,”

“Now is the moment to change and send an important signal to everybody because Di Canio is the same.”

“If he wants to jump again he has to not only come back as he was last year but better because my demands are higher this year.

“If I had the same Caddis as last year it would already be a good base because there was availability and desire to improve.

“They have to follow me. And if they don’t want to follow me then they are out.”

It was a sad end to a story that looked liked it had plenty more chapters to come and duly Caddis is showing what Town are missing out on as he continues to impress in the Championship for Birmingham.

Paul and Paolo during happier times

Paul and Paolo during happier times

9) Alex Pritchard: Out of the four loan signings from Tottenham in the 2013/14 season (a further two joining permanently), one young Hotspur stood out from the crowd. So much so that on Tottenham’s first game since Pritchard’s return to North London he was named on the bench away to West Ham.

Voted the second best player in League One and short-listed for the Football League Young Player of the Year Award, the tiny midfielder certainly made a huge impact during his short Swindon spell.

The five foot six inch winger ended his time in Wiltshire with six goals in the league to his name, one of them being a fantastic free-kick away to MK Dons on the Sky Sports cameras and arguably an even better one during a visit at Port Vale, it is something he is fast picking up a reputation for.

He also pitched in with 13 assists over the course of the campaign showing how vital he was in his one season.

Pritchard’s tenure at the County Ground was a brief one but he will be fondly remembered by Swindon supporters.

8) Massimo Luongo: Swindon’s Australian asset Luongo has come on leaps and bounds since his 2013 Summer transfer when he joined for what now looks like a bargain at £400,000.

Luongo initially arrived at the County Ground in March of the same year, signing on loan until the end of the season, scoring two goals in five games, firstly in a 4-1 home win over Crewe Alexandra and then the opener against Brentford in the first leg of the Play-off Semi Final.

Since his permanent swtich, Luongo has established himself as one of Town’s key men, forming a formidable part in the heart of the Robins’ midfield with Yaser Kasim and Louis Thompson.

The Socceroos starlet represented Swindon on the International stage in June of this year, becoming the third player in the club’s history to go to a World Cup while contracted at the County Ground. Alan McLoughlin for Ireland in 1990 and Jan Aage Fjortoft for Norway in 1994 are the other two.

Sadly he didn’t feature in any of Australia’s three games (all of which they lost) in Brazil but regardless, the future looks bright for the 22-year-old.

ML PO Goal

7) Nathan Thompson: Only Fraser Digby (twice) and Shaun Taylor join Nathan Thompson in the short list of players that have won back to back Player of the Year awards, something the current Swindon captain is very proud of.

Speaking to BenjaminWills’Blog Thompson announced:

“What makes this award so special is that it’s voted for by the fans, and each game I try to give 100% for them and the club, so to be recognised in this way is very humbling indeed.

“It goes without saying I’m immensely proud to captain a club that I’ve been at not just for my professional career, but for my Centre of Excellence years and youth development too. I take the role extremely seriously – working hard to ensure the team morale is high – so that this team gives back to the fans and the club.”

Youth product Thompson contributed two assists in his debut season as Swindon skipper as Town finished 8th in League One and at the time of writing has led a team with an average age of 22 to the play-off spots in League One.

Rockin' Robin Thompson with the first of his Player of the Year awards

Rockin’ Robin Thompson with the first of his Player of the Year awards

6) Wes Foderingham: Touted by many as the best Goalkeeper Swindon have had since Fraser Digby, Foderingham has been something of a revelation since he arrived on loan from Crystal Palace in October 2011.

A relative unknown quantity, Foderingham had only previously had spells at Conference North and South sides Boreham Wood, Histon and Bromley before being thrust into the line up of a side expected to win League Two.

Foderingham was calmness personified however, marking his first Football League appearance with a clean sheet in a 0-2 win at Accrington Stanley.

Four more games would pass without Foderingham’s goal being troubled, and the England Under-19 International would become the first Swindon custodian to keep five clean sheets in his first five home matches (Gillingham, Bradford City, Aldershot Town, Morecambe and AFC Wimbledon).

Another two would follow in games at home to Macclesfield Town and Crawley Town. If Shrewsbury didn’t breach his goal, he would have broken a Swindon clean sheet record that stretches back to the days of a certain Mr.Digby.

5) Matt Ritchie: Out of all the players featured in this list, Matt Ritchie is the most successful in terms of personal accolades earned during his tenure at the club.

Swindon’s triumphant League Two title winning campaign of 2011/12 saw 39 players in total make league appearances in some way shape or form but Ritchie at times made it look like a one man operation.

Alan McCormack would be awarded Player of the Year that season but Ritchie would be given everything else, being named in the League Two team of the year and League Two player of the year itself, not forgetting.

One more honour would follow – Swindon Town’s Goal of the Season, for his rasping long range effort in the 2-0 home win over Gillingham.

The following season he picked up the League One Player of the Year award as Swindon finished fifth in their first season back in League One, however Ritchie departed the County Ground for Bournemouth in January for what was pittance fee £500,000 considering Paolo Di Canio once valued him at £10 million.

4) Sam Parkin: Su-per, Super Sam, Su-per, Super Sam, Su-per. Super Sam, Super Sammy Parkin! It is no surprise the Chelsea youth graduate features highly on this list, but what is a surprise is the impact he made at SN1.

Only 11 goals in 64 games in four loan spells at Millwall, Wycombe Wanderers, Oldham Athletic and Northampton Town over two years saw him sold by his Premier League club and snapped up by maverick manager Andy King.

Paltry Parkin became potent Parkin in no time at all, scoring a hat-trick in a 3-1 win over Barnsley on the opening day and ended the season with 26 goals in 48 games (all competitions) overall as Swindon finished 10th in the old Division Two.

The 2003/04 season would see less goals for Parkin, 19 in 40, but Swindon would enjoy a higher league position, finishing fifth only to lose to Brighton in the Play-offs.

Mid table mediocrity would rear its ugly head once again the following campaign but 23 goals in 41 games did give the Town faithful something to smile about anyway. 73 goals in 124 games makes ‘Super Sam’ Swindon’s top scorer in the 21st Century so far.

3) Charlie Austin: Very much the poster boy of Swindon Town in the 21st Century, Charlie Austin joined the club from non league Poole Town in 2009  after Bournemouth were denied the striker due to a transfer embargo.

He made an instant impact at Town, scoring three minutes into his debut start away at Carlisle in November and then netting a 58th minute winner in a 2-1 win over Huddersfield Town in his County Ground bow.

Another 18 more would follow and Austin finished the  2009/10 season on 20 goals, it could have been one more if it wasn’t for that Wembley bobble but the less said about that the better.

Austin formed a formidable partnership with Billy Paynter, the pair providing 56 goals between them but Paynter’s departure to Leeds during the Summer did not hamper Austin.

The then 21-year-old scored 12 in 25 in the 2010/11 season and despite his January move to Burnley, he finished Swindon’s top scorer that season as the Robins were relegated to League Two.

2) Simon Cox: As this list proves, Swindon have had somewhat of a penchant for a gifted striker this past decade and Cox was arguably the best of the bunch.

He may have failed to make an impact in the Premier League, unlike Charlie Austin for example, but 48 goals in games makes him Town’s 30th top scorer of all time.

Cox signed for Swindon on January 31 2008 after initially impressing during a loan spell earlier on in the season, netting eight in 19 and he finished with 14 in 36.

What stands Cox ahead of the likes of Austin and Parkin in the eyes of many is his ability to seemingly score from everywhere.

Famous volleys such as his pre-season strike in Fenerbache and another one closer to home against Walsall are still fresh in the memory and go some way into indicating why he was voted Swindon’s Player of the Year in the 2008/09 season.

1) Yaser Kasim: The Iraqi Xavi or the Iraqi Pirlo, whatever your preference there is no denying the talent of the player plucked from obscurity.

Kasim, a man who saw first team chances at Conference Premier side Macclesfield Town limited, took like a duck to water two tiers up when he was signed by Mark Cooper last Summer.

His rise has not gone unnoticed, bizarrely after impressing in a 0-2 League Cup win at Queens Park Rangers, Harry Redknapp reportedly enquired about taking his services to Loftus Road just two months after he signed the dotted line at the County Ground.

The baller from Baghdad has become a lynch pin in the heart of Swindon midfield, dictating play and contributing four assists and two goals along the way.

He has made continued in the same vain this campaign and has two assists and two goals so far to his name.

Swindon fans and staff will be hoping he isn’t missed too much when he departs for the Asia Cup in January with Iraq.

 

Manchester United 4-0 Queens Park Rangers

A rejuvenated Manchester United strolled past Queens Park Rangers, winning 4-0, as they intend to make Old Trafford a fortress again.

The rout started 24 minutes in when Angel Di Maria’s flighted free-kick went all the way in with Robert Green left clutching at thin air as Di Maria’s attempted cross flew past him.

Fellow summer signing Ander Herrera doubled the hosts’ advantage on 36 minutes when he swept in from the edge of the box from Wayne Rooney’s pass as a result of a rampaging run by Di Maria.

It was three just before the break when goalscorer of the second Herrera turned provider, assisting Rooney who took a touch before lashing the ball past Green from just inside the area, beating the former England goalkeeper at his near post.

Off the mark: Ander Herrera scores his first goal for his new club

Off the mark: Ander Herrera scores his first goal for his new club

Today was a day in which everything went right for Louis Van Gaal’s side, none more evident than when a totally unmarked Juan Mata turned in a wayward shot by Di Maria for 4-0 with 58 minutes on the clock.

QPR chances were few and far between but deadline day signing Niko Kranjcar came close three minutes after half time but his shot as saved by the boot of David De Gea.

Eduardo Vargas too came close, he shot wide late on after seizing on a poor back pass by Marcos Rojo.

Marquee signing Radamel Falcao came on for his Manchester United debut in the 67th minute, replacing Mata.

The Colombian had a chance to extend United’s lead ever further but he could not convert Daley Blind’s rebounded effort.

Manchester United: De Gea, Evans, Rojo, Rafael (Valencia ’67), Blackett, Di Maria (Januzaj ’82), Herrera, Blind, Rooney, Mata (Falcao ’67), Van Persie

Subs not used: Lindegaard, Shaw, Fletcher, Pereira

Queens Park Rangers: Green, Isla, Caulker, Ferdinand, Hill (Traore ’45) Kranjcar, Sandro (Henry ’74), Fer, Phillips, Austin (Vargas ’59), Hoilett

Subs not used: McCarthy, Onouha, Zamora, Taarabt

Man of the match: Angel Di Maria

Feature: The rise and rise of Charlie Austin

Charlie Austin’s first Premier League goal was not like most others this weekend, his strike against Sunderland symbolized how far the striker has come in the last five years.

Austin, now 25, is a million miles away from the life he had at Poole Town in 2009 where he played in front of just 200 people. At QPR’s Loftus Road he is strutting his stuff to a loyal London crowd of 20,000, when Manchester United away comes around, that amount will quadruple to 80,000.

It was humble beginnings for Austin, released by Reading in 2004 for being too short he was out the game for three years before joining Berkshire based Kintbury Rangers in England’s 10th tier where he netted 20 goals in 27 games in his one season at the club.

A move to hometown side Hungerford Town followed but this spell was less fruitful, Austin found the net just five times in his 30 games there.

He relocated to Bournemouth after his unsuccessful season at Hungerford and joined Poole Town where he scored 48 goals in 42 games over the space of a season and a half whilst being a bricklayer as the day job.

Building for the future: Bricklayer Austin scores for Poole

Building for the future: Bricklayer Austin scores for Poole

Bournemouth themselves, then in League Two, tried to sign Austin in the 2009/10 season after the striker’s successful trial at Dean Court but a transfer embargo put an end to that transfer.

Shortly after, Swindon Town a division up offered Austin a trial after Swindon chief scout Ken Ryder “stumbled across Charlie (Austin) playing for Poole Town…and he scored four goals…and then the following week he scored three or four”.  Austin scored a hat-trick against Swansea reserves and was snapped up immediately.

His Football League debut came at Carrow Road, coming on as a 70th minute substitute against Norwich City where he did not score but the wait was not long, his first goal coming in his first start away at Carlisle United after just three minutes.

Goal number two came soon after, in his home debut three days later, nabbing a 59th minute winner against Huddersfield Town.

During his time at Swindon, Austin forged a superb working relationship with Billy Paynter. They played together once for the reserves against the Reading equivalent and both scored two. League One’s finest strike partnership was born.

Paynter ended the season second top scorer in League One with 26 goals behind a certain Rickie Lambert on 30 while Austin himself grabbed 20.

Swindon reached the play-off final that year, losing 0-1 to Millwall at Wembley, it might have been different had the cruel turf at England’s national stadium not prevented Austin with a goal, the ball bobbling before Austin could pull the trigger leading to an uncharacteristic miss.

He did score in the first leg of the semi final against Charlton Athletic however.

Rocking Robin: Austin during his breakthrough Swindon years

Rocking Robin: Austin during his breakthrough Swindon years

The following season was a more frustrating one for Austin, suffering a dislocated shoulder in September but when back on the pitch, goals duly followed, 12 of them in fact which led to him joining Burnley in January after he failed to agree personal terms with Ipswich Town.

Former club Swindon were relegated and despite Austin’s January departure, he remained their top scorer that season.

Burnley beginnings were tough for Austin, a relapse of his earlier shoulder injury dampened his start, playing just four games in the remainder of the season, scoring zero.

It was business as usual the next season though, scoring 16 goals and finishing at the top of the team’s scoring charts.

In his third term at Turf Moor Austin became a club record breaker. A brace against Bristol City saw him equal Ray Pointer’s 1958 club record of scoring in eight consecutive appearances and a fortnight later Austin became the quickest Claret to reach 20 goals in a season and ended the campaign with 25.

Austin is of course now a Premier League player but the top flight have been calling since last summer. Hull City had a bid accepted from Burnley but Austin failed his medical and instead joined QPR for £4 million.

Once again Austin was the top marksman for a club, scoring 17 in 31 as QPR were promoted back to the Premiership at the first time of asking via the play-offs.

If he can adapt to the play of the Premier League in the same ilk as he has done with League One and the Championship then Austin may well be in with a shot of making the England team.

Big time Charlie: Austin will relish Premier League life

Big time Charlie: Austin will relish Premier League life

Lambert has made the step from League One to England national team and Austin is six years younger than his former third tier counterpart.

The world is at Charlie Austin’s feet, and his feet have treated him well so far.

 

Top 10: Best young Championship players

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In yet another Championship season that has seen thrills, spills, excitement and drama, here’s a look at some of the young players who made an impact and could be destined for bright things in the future.

10: Jamaal Lascelles (Nottingham Forest)

The first of three Nottingham Forest players to make an appearance in this list, Jamaal Lascelles is hot property. The 20-year-old Centre Back has already attracted interested from the likes of Liverpool, Manchester City and Arsenal in the Premiership with the latter submitting a £5 million pound bid for the Forest man when he was just 17. Everton are also keeping an eye on his progress.

The Derby born defender spent time at League 1 Stevenage last season, scoring one goal in seven games with his first start for the club coming in a 6-0 away win over Yeovil Town, who would of course go on to earn promotion via the play offs.

Lascelles has made 31 appearances this campaign, scoring two goals and has also made two caps for the England Under 20 squad.

9: Karl Darlow (Nottingham Forest)

Karl Darlow is the second member of the Forest contingent to appear in the top 10 and the only goalkeeper. Darlow began his career at Aston Villa as an eight-year-old but found himself without a club by age 16.

Weeks after his release he was snapped up by Nottingham Forest on recommendation by Villa goalkeeping coach Eric Steele and the Englishman hasn’t looked back since.

Darlow is eligible to play for Wales through his Grandfather Ken Leek who was a former pro himself, netting 49 goals in 104 games for Birmingham City, and representing Wales in the 1958 World Cup. Darlow however has rejected a call up from the Red Dragons in hope that he’ll one day attract interest from England.

The 23-year-old has had to be patient for his Forest chance, having been at the club since 2010 and being away from the club twice on loan in 2012 (Newport and Walsall) but he has now established himself as the number one at the City Ground following Lee Camp’s departure.

We could well be seeing Darlow in the Premier League soon, either with Forest who came close to promotion this season, or via another route with Liverpool and Tottenham keen on the youngster.

8: Rohan Ince (Brighton)

Rohan Ince, third cousin of Manchester United legend Paul and second cousin of Crystal Palace winger Tom, has made a big impression since joining the AMEX after his release from Chelsea.

Liam Bridcutt’s January move to Sunderland had Seagulls fans on edge, fearing a big gap had been left in the midfield but Ince has filled it admirably as Brighton push to finish in the final play off place.

The former Centre Back, now defensive midfielder, has looked solid in a Brighton shirt, making 28 appearances this season, including a number of man of the match performances as he looks to emulate both his cousins with Paul and Tom both gracing the Premier League in their careers.

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7: Anthony Knockaert (Leicester)

Villain turned hero. Knockaert was the man who missed “that penalty” against Watford that led to Troy Deeney’s magnificent counter attack goal that took Watford to Wembley instead of Leicester as the Hornets stung the Foxes at Vicarage Road.

Leicester’s Frenchman has redeemed himself however scoring five goals in 38 games as they have stormed to the Championship title.

The cunning Fox will have to be kept at arm’s length by Premiership defences next season as this tricky wide man will be keen to ensure Leicester do a lot more than just compete in England’s top tier.

6: Jamie Paterson (Nottingham Forest)

The third and final Forest man to feature is winger-cum-striker Jamie Paterson who has made a real impression in Nottingham since his hat trick in a 5-0 demolition of West Ham, his first three goals for the club.

He scored his first league goal in the following game, a 1-1 away draw at Bolton and then he scored in his third successive game in a 4-1 trouncing of Blackburn back at the City Ground.

Paterson would go onto score another five in the season as the Tricky Trees went on a terrible run of form leading up to Billy Davies’ sacking.

5: Matt Phillips (QPR)

In what has been a disappointing season by all accounts, Matt Phillips has been a rare top performer in a Rangers shirt this season.

The pacey winger who has also previously spent time at Wycombe and Blackpool has contributed two assists and three goals during the R’s stuttering season which has seen no-one score more than five goals apart from Charlie Austin, who spent a large chunk of the year out injured, and Ravel Morrision who only joined in January on loan.

Scotland International Phillips, 23, was voted Wycombe’s Young Player of the Year in 2009 (aged 19), and also picked up the prestigious Football League Two ‘Apprentice of the Year’ award the same year.

Phillips was also a regular for Blackpool when they graced the Premier League and following their relegation was subject to a £5 million bid from Southampton, which was turned down. Phillips handed in a transfer request soon after.

4: Patrick Bamford (Derby County, on loan from Chelsea)

Bamford is quickly establishing himself as one of the most talented young strikers England has to offer after firstly impressing at League 1 MK Dons and then a level higher at Championship’s Derby County.

Lincolnshire lad Bamford, 20, netted 18 goals in 37 League 1 games at Stadium:MK over two seasons before Steve McClaren invited the young forward to upgrade to the Championship which he took to like a duck to water scoring 8 in 20 in Derby colours.

Chelsea’s latest prospect will be hoping he is a Premier League player next season, either with Derby County who have guaranteed themselves a play off spot or with his parent club who are having a well documented problem with their forward line.

His International future is as open in the air as his club career with Bamford having featured for the Republic of Ireland under 18’s as well as England’s development squads (Under 18, 19 and 21 level) but it looks like he has opted for the three Lions, to the delight of many.

3: Will Hughes (Derby County)

When the phrase “top young talents in the Championship” is ever mentioned, Will Hughes springs to the mind of most football fans, none more so to those who watch him week in week out at Pride Park.

“Pride” is the operative word around the Derby area when talking about this young man, making his first team debut aged just 17 years of age.

He was immediately on the radar of Manchester United and City, as well as Chelsea and even Barcelona.

It’s Liverpool fans though who are most confident of the midfielder’s signature with Hughes being a fan of the club.

The midfielder’s development hasn’t slowed down, despite all the hype surrounding him at such a young age and the now 19 year old is firmly focused on getting Derby County, where he is now a regular, back into the Premier League.

Hughes is not much of a goal scorer, having only been on the score-sheet five times for County in 73 games but it’s his flair that excites clubs and fans alike with him. Hughes has assisted five goals this season and was voted the 10th best player of the season in the Championship.

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2: Kieran Trippier (Burnley)

Burnley Right Back Kieran Trippier has been a key cog in the Clarets doing so surprisingly well this season but hasn’t had the headlines he perhaps deserves with Sam Vokes and Danny Ings’ strike partnership stealing most of the attention.

The Manchester City Youth Graduate (who captained the side to 2008 Youth Cup glory) has plenty of Championship experience under his belt already with two loan spells at Barnsley followed by one at Burnley before Sean Dyche brought him to Turf Moor on a permanent deal.

Trippier is one of the league’s top assisters this season with 14 and also finds himself in the division’s meanest defence, Burnley have conceded just 35 goals in 45 games this season. He was also voted the Championship’s 8th best player this season.

1: Danny Ings (Burnley)

The Championship’s best young player, the Championship’s best player.

Danny Ings, aged just 21 was voted the player of the season this year as Sean Dyche’s cash-strapped Clarets, who many were backing for relegation to League 1, were promoted to the Premiership as runners up.

20 goals in 45 games makes Danny Ings the joint fifth top scorer with Derby’s Chris Martin and Sam Vokes who he’s enjoyed a fruitful goalscoring relationship with this season.

Just last season, Ings only managed three goals in 32 games which highlights his vast improvement this season.

Following his successful campaign he is now touted as a transfer target for title chasing Liverpool as they look to bolster their thin squad ahead of their first Champions League campaign in five years.

If Ings signs the dotted line at Anfield this Summer, it will be a far cry from 2010 when he found himself on loan at Dorchester Town.

Wherever Ings finds himself next season, we know it will be in the Premier League where he will be hoping to make a big impression and who knows, he may even find himself in Roy Hodgson’s plans.

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