By Dan Chapman
With the joys of the World Cup behind us, the pedantry of those pre-season friendlies a fading memory, tomorrow it all begins in earnest……another season has arrived! Here is the Full Contact preview of what awaits our clients.
Starting in the Premier League, Joel Taylor has turned professional at Stoke City, and will be looking to build on impressive Under 21 performances last season and get a bit closer to Mark Hughes’ squad.
The Championship promises to be a hugely contested league, and a number of clients should be right in the thick of it. Newly promoted Rotherham United field client Richard Brindley (who in the last two seasons has played in the Conference South, League Two and League One) and Kieran Agard, so prolific last year in League One. Derby County home a number of Full Contact clients, and keeper Kelle Roos will be looking to make his first team debut during the year. Alefe Santos, signed from Bristol Rovers, will also be aiming to breakthrough during the season and young striker Shaquille McDonald will be aiming to consolidate and develop in County’s Under 21 set up. Norwich City keeper Remi Matthews will look to gain first team experience this season, perhaps out on loan, whilst Middlesbrough’s Mark Kitching enjoyed a taste of first team action at the end of last season as an unused substitute and will be keen to make the next step and earn his competitive debut. Sheffield Wednesday striker Manny Dieseruvwe begins his second year as a professional and will strive to build on last season where he had two loan spells in the Conference Premier and League Two. Grant Holt has returned to parent club Wigan Athletic after his loan spell at Aston Villa.
League One awaits newly promoted Chesterfield, and clients Ollie Banks and Armand Gnanduillet look set to play key roles for the Spireites. Magnus Okuonghae begins another season as a stalwart in the Colchester United defence (and has been appointed as captain), who have also signed youngster Kevin Lokko (formerly of Norwich City). Reice Charles-Cook has signed for Coventry City after rejecting a new deal at Bury, and he will being the season out on loan to Nuneaton Town in the Conference Premier, adding first team experience to that he gained last year. Jordan Wynter, at Bristol City, completes Full Contact’s League One roster and has an important season ahead of him.
League Two has so often been the launch pad for many a stellar career, and this season our attentions turn, in particular, to Mansfield Town who have three clients new to the English game to look out for ; Alex Fisher and Fergus Bell return after playing in Spain, Belgium and Italy for the last few years and Sascha Studer has arrived for the first time from Switzerland. Mickey Demetriou will be making his first Football League appearances for Shrewsbury Town after making the jump up from non-league football. Keepers Cameron Belford and Jay Lynch complete the League Two selection, both signing late deals before the start of the season with Mansfield Town and Accrington Stanley respectively.
Full Contact has just one client currently plying his trade in Scotland ; ex Reading striker Gozie Ugwu is aiming to score a lot of goals and lead a promotion charge at Dunfermline.
A massive ten months or so awaits those Full Contact scholars entering the final year of their football education and striving to turn professional. Some may even achieve first team football during the forthcoming season; we certainly hope and expect so. Reece Webb of Birmingham City, Regan Charles-Cook of Charlton, Nathan Fox of Norwich, Chris Speed of Crewe, Josh Ginnelly of Shrewsbury, Marcus Poscha of Bury (who has already made his Football League debut), Muctaru Conte of Oxford – together with Jonathan Fusco returning from a long term injury that ruled him out of most of last season – are all names to look out for. Full Contact’s first year scholars setting out on their journey are Aston Villa’s Corey Taylor and Liverpool’s Callum Nicholas.
Full Contact has become renowned for taking players from non-league in to the professional game. Last season, both Kelle Roos and Mickey Demetriou made the step from the Conference Premier to the Football League (moving from Nuneaton and Kidderminster to Derby and Shrewsbury respectively) and Ollie Banks came from much lower (at FC United) to star for promotion winning Chesterfield in League Two. Which Full Contact non-league gems might be the first to make the transition this year? Winger Rod Young looks to make the transition of an exciting academy player to a proven talent at Welling United, as do Henry Randall and Joe Burgess by beginning their seasons at Histon. Bermudan international goalkeeper Freddy Hall will be in between the posts for ambitious Chester, looking to kickstart his English career. Goals aplenty could propel a number of non-league strikers in to the professional game : look out for Jessy Reindorf at Sutton, Bradley Bubb at Havant, Rai Simons at Ilkeston, Evan Garnett at Belper, Adi Yussuf at Oxford City and Bidemi Afolabi at Corby. Freddie Ladapo starts the season out on loan at Grays Athletic and pre-season performances suggest he could score a lot of goals, and Claudiu Hoban will look to push on at Sutton as will defender James Clarke, who has moved to Woking. Michael Clunan has joined Conference North newboys Lowestoft Town.
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The spearhead and Senior Partner of Full Contact, Dan is an experienced solicitor and advocate, with a specialist background in employment law and sports.
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