The Football League Paper - - FRONT PAGE -

HIS time last year, Char­lie Austin was an in­jury-plagued striker strug­gling to hit top gear. Now, he is the most sought-af­ter hit­man out­side the Pre­mier League with a price tag of £10m.

Dwight Gayle, cur­rently res­cu­ing Peter­bor­ough from rel­e­ga­tion, was in

FEW peo­ple can have been so suc­cess­ful at nur­tur­ing tal­ent yet so bad at recog­nis­ing it as Roy Keane. This, af­ter all, is the man who re­leased Jor­dan Rhodes (49 goals in his last 59 games) in or­der to sign Tamas Priskin (13 goals in the last four years) and then in­sisted it was good busi­ness.

In 2010, he did it again, ef­fec­tively bin­ning off Liam Trot­ter by fail­ing to match an of­fer from Mill­wall.

Now, the 24-year-old is the ab­so­lute epit­ome of what the Trac­tor Boys lack – a tall, ath­letic, box-to-box mid­fielder who can de­stroy and cre­ate with equal as­sur­ance. The driv­ing force be­hind Mill­wall’s sur­prise pro­mo­tion push, he is be­ing closely mon­i­tored by Ful­ham and Southamp­ton. TO say Hughes may one day play for Eng­land prob­a­bly doesn’t do the Derby mid­fielder jus­tice. The 17-year-old will play for the Three Lions, and soon. Vi­sion, touch, bal­ance, skill – Hughes is a lit­tle Span­ish mae­stro with an English ac­cent.

OK, so he only made his de­but this sea­son and has played just a hand­ful of games. Un­til last month, he couldn’t even fin­ish 90 min­utes. But so rapid is his devel­op­ment and so ef­fort­less his play that, bar­ring se­ri­ous in­jury, there is no way he won’t be a star at the high­est level. Watch­ing him weave through chal­lenges and glide over the ground is one of the Cham­pi­onship’s finest sights this year – no won­der boss Nigel Clough says Hughes is al­ready “the real deal”. AT 28, Mor­gan is hardly an up-and­comer. But the Leicester cen­tre­back is one of the di­vi­sion’s un­sung heroes and his per­for­mances this sea­son have been im­mac­u­late. In fair­ness, they al­ways were. In ten years and al­most 400 ap­pear­ances for Not­ting­ham For­est, Mor­gan barely put a foot wrong.

Im­mov­able in the air and de­cep­tively quick on the deck, he also leads the line and senses dan­ger

the Con­fer­ence North with Bishop’s Stort­ford. And Derby’s Will Hughes, now a tar­get for Ar­se­nal, hadn’t even left the youth team or learned to drive.

A year in foot­ball is all it takes to go from un­known to su­per­star – here are ten play­ers who I think will make the leap in 2013.

like Spi­der­man. Plenty of strik­ers get caught in his webs – not many get out.THE rea­son be­hind Leicester’s trans­for­ma­tion from un­der­achiev­ers to ti­tle-chasers. IN the rush to ac­claim Wil­fried Zaha, ev­ery­body for­got about the bloke on the other wing. In re­cent weeks, how­ever, Yan­nick Bo­lasie stepped out of the Ivo­rian’s shadow to re­mind ev­ery­one what an out­stand­ing tal­ent he is.

A cousin of former New­cas­tle winger Lo­mana LuaLua, the 23year-old plays in much the same fash­ion, al­beit with a greater sense of pur­pose and pre­ci­sion. Light­ning quick and fab­u­lously skil­ful, the former Bris­tol City and Ply­mouth player has won a ton of penal­ties this year, not to men­tion notch­ing a club-best six as­sists. Zaha may be the Palace ma­gi­cian, but Bo­lasie is much more than his glam­orous as­sis­tant. OF­TEN scouted by Stu­art Pearce, the Hud­der­s­field right-back is a de­fender in name alone. Like a Brazil­ian, he clearly sees the word ‘full-back’ as a mis­spelling of the word ‘winger’ and adapts his game ac­cord­ingly.

Usu­ally found tear­ing up the flank, Hunt is as skil­ful as plenty of wide­men (he won four penal­ties in the first six games of the sea­son) and is happy to hit the by­line or swing a ball in from deep. Still raw and ex­cit­ing, he does need help from mid­field at times but will be a top-notch player when he learns how to bal­ance de­fence and at­tack. BE­FORE sign­ing for Brent­ford in 2011, For­rester was on trial at Ajax, where he scored a hat-trick for the Dutch giants. Why they didn’t take him only they will know, but their loss has most def­i­nitely been Brent­ford’s gain. Quite sim­ply, the 21-year-old is a cut above League One and proves it on a weekly ba­sis by ab­so­lutely run­ning the show. Six goals, five as­sists and count­less match-win­ning per­for­mances have shown just why the Bees are near the top of League One, and why For­rester cost As­ton Villa £1m from Watford back in 2008.

Now the Pre­mier League side want him back, and may swoop in Jan­uary. “I hope he re­alises what he has here at Brent­ford and that his ca­reer has only just started three months ago,” said boss Uwe Rosler. “He has only played 17 games of im­mense foot­ball.” A FIG­URE of fun at Southamp­ton af­ter com­i­cally let­ting the ball squirm through his legs dur­ing a match against Black­pool, the 25year-old Pole has re­built his rep­u­ta­tion at Notts County with a string of match-win­ning per­for­mances.

Quick, ag­ile and just a lit­tle bit ec­cen­tric, Bialkowski has been com­pared to Peter Sch­me­ichel by Swin­don boss Paolo Di Canio, who

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