Top 10: Football League stars of tomorrow – the kids on Premier League radars
Joe Gomez (Charlton, 17)
Athletic centre-back Gomez made five starts for the Addicks before Christmas, appearing on the bench another six times. He was part of the England team that won the UEFA under-17 European Championship in 2014, as they upset the England-win-on-penalties hoodoo by defeating the Netherlands on spot-kicks in the final. He played every minute of every game for John Peacock’s side during the tournament before returning to The Valley.
After winning the Professional Development League 2 South with Charlton’s U18 side last season, Gomez started training with the first-team squad in pre-season and was blooded by manager Bob Peeters in the Philips Stayen Cup in Belgium. He obviously made a good impression, because the teenager made his England U19 debut in September and was subsequently given a new three-year contract by Charlton in October.
Linked with: Arsenal, Chelsea, Everton, Liverpool, Manchester City, Newcastle.
Did you know? Gomez first played for Charlton’s U18 side aged just 13. He had joined the club in the same year.
Diego De Girolamo (York on loan from Sheff United, 19)
Sheffield United may be stuck in League One at the moment, but they appear to be heading in the right direction under Nigel Clough. At some point in the near future, De Girolamo’s goals could be part of their success. The Chesterfield-born attacker made his debut in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy in December 2012, but has seen his opportunities limited since due to injury. This season he’s been on loan at York City and scored four goals in seven League Two appearances. He’s often played off the wing or behind the striker, but it has been suggested his future may lie as a striker as he develops.
De Girolamo’s dad is from Naples, and the youngster has represented Italy at U18, U19 and U20 levels. He made his U20 debut a few months ago and is clearly highly rated by the Italian federation’s coaches. With no senior appearances to his name he could still play for England, though they face a tough job if they're to snatch him back from the Italians.
Linked with: Arsenal, Manchester United, Sunderland, Juventus, Roma, Napoli.
Did you know? Former Milan and Italy coach Arrigo Sacchi has been credited with persuading De Girolamo to represent the Azzurri. It was reported in Yorkshire that the two-time European Cup winner personally contacted Diego and his family.
Ryan Woods (Shrewsbury, 21)
Known to Shrewsbury fans as the Ginger Pirlo (because, of course), Woods made his name as man of the match when the Shrews narrowly lost to Chelsea in a televised League Cup tie in October. The Staffordshire-born midfielder came through the Shrewsbury academy before making his debut in April 2013. He's continued his good form since, demonstrating an ability to play a range a passes as well as easily creating space for himself.
Micky Mellon, manager of the League Two club, is adamant that his player is not for sale, but may find himself overruled should a big offer arrive. Earlier this season Mellon said: “He's the first player on the training pitch and the last off. He's a terrific kid and has some unbelievable ability.”
Linked with: No one namechecked so far but Shrewsbury are privately aware of interest from higher clubs.
Did you know? His only career goal in 65 league appearances so far came in a January 2014 defeat to MK Dons.