11 Football League stars under 21 you need to know about this season
Zach Clough (Bolton, 20)
A Bolton player since the age of eight, Clough burst onto the scene last January but made only six league starts before a dislocated shoulder cut his season short in March. Then 19, he scored the winner on his full debut in the FA Cup Third Round against Wigan and followed it up with a spectacular brace in a 2-2 draw against Wolves in his first league outing.
His involvement last season wasn’t long quite enough to constitute a full-on breakthrough, but his impact was fair warning to the rest of the Championship about the cutting-edge quality he possesses.
Clough will be a marked man this season but Wanderers manager Neil Lennon has no doubts he can cope with the extra attention to become the fulcrum of most Trotters attacks. They sure need him to be.
Solly March (Brighton, 21)
A peripheral figure for the past two years, March was handed his debut by Oscar Garcia in August 2013 but struggled to hold down a place as an attacking midfielder in an expansive 4-3-3. However, the arrival of Chris Hughton has seen the former Lewes prospect reinvented as a right winger in a 4-4-2 and he has responded to the greater clarity of duty – not to mention extra defensive responsibility – with some mature displays. The recent arrival of Jamie Murphy is a new threat to his selection chances but March is unlikely to shy away now. He has adjusted well enough to the Hughton philosophy to expect consistent game time.
Regan Charles-Cook (Charlton, 18)
A former Arsenal youngster from nearby Lewisham, Charles-Cook has emerged as a surprise contender for regular first-team football at The Valley. There was little touting of his promise before his senior debut in the 4-1 League Cup win over Dagenham & Redbridge earlier this month but the consistency of his displays in pre-season friendlies at right-back, centre midfield and left midfield have convinced Guy Luzon that he’s too useful to be ignored. Such is Luzon’s faith in the pacy all-rounder, he pitched him up against David Meyler in the middle of the park for the final quarter of the recent 2-1 win over Hull, and he didn’t disappoint.