Revealed! EVERY Championship club's most exciting youth prospect
Aston Villa: Rushian Hepburn-Murphy (Forward)
The England U20 international became Villa’s second-youngest player of all time when he made his first-team debut in a Premier League clash against Sunderland in March 2015.
Three-and-a-half years later, he remains the brightest among a strong group of prospects at Villa Park, having refined his raw energy and instincts in front of goal into a more rounded game, while remaining just as prolific at youth level.
With a fresh start under new manager Dean Smith, he has the opportunity to press a claim for more regular involvement than he was able to secure in Steve Bruce’s veteran-laden squad.
Birmingham: Jude Bellingham (Midfielder)
At a club that has produced its fair share of academy graduates in recent years, including several England internationals, you might wonder why a midfielder still at school is our pick of the Blues’ next generation of prospects.
Those who have watched Bellingham play will understand. The 15-year-old has captained his England age group at every turn, established himself in Steve Spooner’s U18 team at Wast Hills this term, and celebrated his U23 debut with the winning goal away to Nottingham Forest on Monday night.
A precious midfielder who wants the ball and always looks to make things happen, he’s well on his way to emulating the likes of Jack Butland, Nathan Redmond and Demarai Gray in representing the Three Lions at the highest level.
Blackburn: Jack Vale (Forward)
It might not be soon, but Blackburn have a talent capable of leaving his mark at Ewood Park in Welsh forward Jack Vale. The Wrexham-born former TNS schoolboy was snapped by up Rovers in his mid-teens and fast-tracked into the Development Squad last season, then signed his maiden professional contract shortly after his 17th birthday.
A proactive winger who enjoys running at opponents, Vale can also lead the line when asked – as he made clear with his eight-goal return last term, including a hat-trick in the FA Youth Cup.
Bolton: Dennis Politic (Forward)
Politics and football should be kept apart, so they say, but in the case of Bolton’s Romanian forward Dennis, they’re made for each other.
A wide forward who’s at his best cutting inside and driving towards goal, Politic has played a big role in improving Wanderers’ fortunes at youth level over the last two years, and is already one of David Lee’s best players at U23 level.
He went viral last season after scoring from the halfway line against Sheffield Wednesday’s U18s and has the ability to make plenty more headlines in the next few years.
Brentford: Josh Dasilva (Midfielder)
England’s next generation of prospects have begun to realise that they hold the power to determine the direction of their careers, and it hasn’t been limited to the headlines generated by the likes of Jadon Sancho.
Dasilva, who won the European U19 Championship with England last summer, opted against extending his contract at Arsenal, instead penning a four-year deal at Griffin Park.
Tall, athletic and with a sweet left foot, his future as a powerful box-to-box midfielder will initially be nurtured by the Bees’ B-team, but a clear pathway into the first team is there for him to take.
Bristol City: Lloyd Kelly (Defender)
Kelly is actually almost established as a first-team regular at Ashton Gate, and destined for the top flight sooner rather than later. A silky-smooth left-footed defender who has shown ability to play as a central defender in either a back three or four, as well as a wider role, Kelly’s star has shone brighter than ever so far in 2018/19.
His increasingly mature performances have belied his tender age (20) and helped him earn the England U20 captaincy during the most recent international break. If he continues his upward trend between now and next summer, Premier League clubs will almost certainly come calling.
Derby: Jack Stretton (Forward)
There are few players in better form in the U18 Premier League this season than Stretton. The first-year scholar, a versatile prospect who has also featured in central defence, has started the new campaign with a glut of goals – headlined by four in an 8-0 win at Newcastle in late September.
The former Nottingham Forest schoolboy – who was released from the Nigel Doughty Academy – appears intent on proving his former club wrong, and will be encouraged by the increasingly youthful look of the Rams’ first-team squad under Frank Lampard and Jody Morris.
Hull: Keane Lewis-Potter (Forward)
On the Tigers’ books since he was 13, Lewis-Potter celebrated his first professional contract with the club back in February, during a season in which he scored 15 times for the U18s and another four for the U23s.
Seven more in his first nine outings this season have confirmed his credentials as one to watch, and with Hull struggling at the bottom of the Championship, they could turn to their teenage hopeful sooner rather than later – the Tigers have averaged less than a goal per game in the first quarter of this campaign.