The 51 best players in the Football League this season
You voted. We counted.
Now the Football League season is over, FFT proudly presents 2018/19’s ranking of the finest footballers in tiers two to four, including future stars and a former teacher, all picked by fans.
To identify the best from below England’s top tier, be they League Two stalwarts or Championship loanees, we polled supporters from every Football League club. You each told us five players in your club’s division (but not at your club – yes, we’re onto you) who you think have shone this season, and we gave points according to the rank you gave them, from first to fifth, and the league in which they’re playing.
It’s science, so you can’t possibly disagree. Oh, you do? Then tweet to tell us how, why and who’s missing.
So far, we've revealed numbers 51 to 11 – come back on Friday for the top 10. Enjoy...
51. Luke Freeman (QPR)
In an up-and-down season for the Hoops, their midfield schemer has been one player to consistently bring his A-game, terrifying opposition defences with his direct running and wand of a left peg. Freeman, formerly of Stevenage and Bristol City, is technically excellent and a man for the big occasion – his opening three goals of 2019 came against Aston Villa, West Brom and Leeds.
50. Tyler Walker (Mansfield)
Perhaps the greatest success of Walker’s season has been to secure a reputation as a master goalscorer, and not simply ‘son of Des’. What impresses most about the loanee is his ability to find space in a crowded box, as well as his composure when finishing with either foot or his head. He’ll return to Nottingham Forest full of confidence after 20-plus goals and potentially a promotion, too, with Mansfield heading into the League Two play-offs.
49. Ashley Hunter (Fleetwood)
After breaking into the starting XI two seasons ago, the 23-year-old is now the key creative asset for this Fleetwood outfit and among the top assisters in League One. Hunter is at his most effective on the left side of midfield, where the bulk of his assists have come from inswinging right-footed crosses that are tough to defend against. The ex-Ilkeston man is a clever player with excellent technique.
48. Chuks Aneke (MK Dons)
The Arsenal academy product’s talent has never been in doubt, but it's taken a while to work out his most effective position.
It seems obvious now: Aneke is a brilliant lower-league striker, able to handle the physicality of League Two and boasting both the ability to create chances and a knack for being on the end of them. He’s been vital in the Dons’ successful bid for a swift League One return.
47. Eberechi Eze (QPR)
Eze went from being a League Two loanee to a clutch player for QPR in less than a year. A silky No.10, his ability to breeze past players, coupled with a powerful shot, make him a real dangerman and a target for rough treatment from opponents. Like QPR, he has fallen away in the second half of the season, but he has the skill to go far and, at 20, the time to add the consistency needed to do so.
46. Max Aarons (Norwich)
The teenager impressed in the Carabao Cup’s early rounds, was given a chance in the league and since then has been first-choice right-back (where he now plays opposite another young full-back, 21-year-old Jamal Lewis). Going forward, he offers the Canaries width, pace and fantastic link-up play, and in defensive situations has shown great maturity. The prototype of a modern full-back.
45. Ian Henderson (Rochdale)
It’s difficult to think of many players quite as crucial to their team as Henderson is to Dale. He'll be the club’s top goalscorer for a fifth season in succession, and has hit more League One goals than anyone in the division across the past five campaigns. The veteran can play as a deep-lying forward or out wide and still be the team’s most consistent goal threat, and he’s showing no sign of slowing.
44. Alan Browne (Preston)
Were this The 51 Most Underrated Football League Players, Browne would be No.1. Plucked from Cork City as an 18-year-old, he has just reached 200 Preston appearances and his influence has never been greater. He wears No.8 but plays as a No.10 and has scored 12 times in the Championship this term, while his work without the ball allows Alex Neil’s side to defend from the front to supreme effect.
43. Padraig Amond (Newport County)
The 30-year-old finished the season with 14 league goals – but it was his cup haul that really caught the eye. Amond scored in every round of Newport’s run to the last 16 of the FA Cup, including a late strike against Manchester City which impressed Pep Guardiola so much that he sought him out to congratulate him on the finish after the game.
42. Lukas Jutkiewicz (Birmingham)
The man they call The Duke has always been a useful forward at Championship level. But having become a key man under Garry Monk, he’s now enjoying his best campaign yet, thriving alongside Che Adams and reaching double figures for both goals and assists in early February. For any team playing a direct style of football, a willing targetman is essential, and the 30-year-old has won the most aerial duels in the division.
41. Jason Shackell (Lincoln)
Shackell – one of several players lured to Sincil Bank in recent seasons despite clearly being capable of playing higher up the ladder – has lived up to the expectations and formed part of the Imps’ sturdy League Two spine. His leadership qualities have helped Lincoln win the title, while his four league goals have included two winners and a stunning direct free-kick.
ON THE NEXT PAGE...
Places 40-31, including an exciting Chelsea youngster and a former PE teacher who rose up through non-league