My name is Dan Johnson (@danjohnson6) and I’m a Swindon Town fan. I’ve been writing about Swindon’s fortunes over the last four seasons, and despite being relegated to League Two, this upcoming season is one I can’t wait to finally get started.
Over the next 10 months of League Two football I will be bringing you a short and simple overview of how things are shaping up in the league and a supporters eye view of life in League Two. After all, it doesn’t get the coverage it deserves.
Today we look at the best young midfielders League Two has to offer. Just like the previous two posts I will be focusing on the rising stars of League Two and the players you need to look out for when teams visit your ground or you’re watching a League Two game on TV.
After looking at the midfield talent in League Two, just like the previous couple of weeks, it could have been a very long list.
Players like Rashid Yussuff, Charlie Bennett, Chris Mitchell, Mustapha Carayol, Marlon Pack, Hope Akpan, Luke Murphy, Charlie Lee, Alfie Potter and Simon Ferry are some of the brilliant young midfielders that will play a huge role for their clubs this upcoming season, but a few others piped them to the post.
These five players will be the players to keep an eye out for this season in League Two:
5. Ryan Hall started his career at Crystal Palace in 2006 but after not getting any first team football was sent on loan to a few other clubs across the country.
Over a 2-year spell he played for Lewes, Dag & Red and Crawley on loan and in 2008 was released by Crystal Palace.
In the same year Ryan was picked up by Bromley of the Conference South and during his time with the club made a huge impression. After playing non-league football for 2 years he was signed up by Southend last summer.
So far during his time at Roots Hall under Paul Sturrock he has gone from strength to strength and had an impressive season. Because of that he finished second in Southend’s Player of the Year awards.
4. Jack Payne signed a professional contract with Gillingham in January 2009 and has been an important first team player ever since.
Although Jack’s primary position is as a central midfielder he can also play at right back and has filled in over the years when needed.
Since he made his debut he’s made over 50 appearances for the club, the most recognised by Gillingham fans is his performance during a 5-0 trashing of Gillingham’s rivals Swindon Town.
His talent has been rewarded over the past three seasons with him winning the clubs Young Player of the Year Award every year since he became a professional.
This year with Gillingham looking to be strong contenders for promotion, Jack will be called on more than before to be one of the clubs best players.
3. Nick Powell like Matthew Tootle from last weeks piece, has spent his entire career to date at Crewe Alexandra and has been tipped as a star of the future by the management team at Crewe.
Nick’s talents came into full view when at the age of 15 he was playing for Crewe’s under-18 team and after some impressive displays was included in a few first team squads. He made his debut at the age of 16 in August 2010.
Even though he’s only 17 his talent is well known across the country and in January this year Arsenal made a reported £1million offer for his services which was quickly rejected. I’m certain that by this time next year a team interested in Nick will have to pay a lot more for his talents.
This summer Nick has also been part of the England under 17’s World Cup campaign and has made 24 appearances scoring 6 goals for his country.
2. Michael Jacobs signed professional terms with Northampton in 2009 and just like the rest of the list of young stars has made a big impression.
In his first season he made a few appearances for the first team but was loaned out to Nuneaton Town to gain more first team experience. It was the 2010/11 season where Michael cemented a first team place at Northampton.
Last season Michael made 33 starts and was a key figure in midfield throughout the season, but most famously he made national news in September 2010.
When Northampton played Liverpool in the Carling Cup he scored in front of the world famous Kop to put Northampton 2-1 up in the tie, and we all know how that fixture ended at Anfield.
Even though Northampton had a disappointing season the emergence of such a talent for the future was one of the highlights and Michael picked up the Player of the Year Award in his first full season of first team football.
1. Matt Ritchie began his football life at Portsmouth signing on as a professional in 2008. After not getting a chance in Portsmouth’s first team he was loaned out to Dagenham & Redbridge in the same year.
Saying that Matt made a big impression at Victoria Road would be a huge understatement; during the 2008/09 season he completely dominated League Two in midfield and became a Daggers favourite very quickly with his stunning performances.
He’s thought of in such high esteem at the club, a fan recently included him in the clubs all time greatest eleven for Four Four Two magazine.
After leaving Dagenham & Redbridge he played for Notts County on loan and put in some great performances, but after Notts County failed to sign the player full time, Swindon took Ritchie on loan for a short spell in February 2010.
After starting the 2010/11 season as a first team player for Portsmouth he quickly ended up back on the bench and because Portsmouth had no reserve team he was again loaned out to Swindon in October 2010. In the next transfer window Swindon moved to sign him permanently for an undisclosed fee.
Even though Swindon had one of the worst seasons in the clubs history, Ritchie was still impressive in midfield and won the clubs Player of the Year Award at the end of the season.
By Dan the fan – Swindon Town fan – @danjohnson6