As Wolves prepare to begin their summer recruitment drive, could any of the players from the Under 21 squad make the step up to first team football? Academy guru Compton Stars suggests his top five picks.
After a poor U21 season collectively, a few individuals have stood out and deserve to follow Dominic Iorfa and Kortney Hause in the recent pathway from U21s football into competing for first team honours in 2015/2016.
Position: Left/Right Wing
Jordan is a very pacey and direct winger, primarily on the left of late. He can go either way with a box of tricks in his arsenal. He has come back well from niggling injuries over the last 12 months to have an impressive last few months in the U21s, adding consistency and a better final ball to his overall game. This has clearly caught the eye of the first team staff, who have regularly had him training with the squad and included him in the first team match day squad, just missing out on the bench on more than one occasion.
A few people have asked me if he is a suitable direct replacement for the departing Bakary Sako. I would say not at this point but I would like to see him get good 1st team minutes during next season.
Position: Left Wing, Attacking Midfield Centre.
Big statement but probably the most naturally talented Wolves U21 player I have seen at this level since Robbie Keane. Connor has lightning quick feet and likes to cut inside, get on the ball and dictate play. He’s very unpredictable, which can be a good or a bad thing depending on your viewpoint, but what can’t be in doubt is his potential. If the coaches at Wolves can extract this we will have a great player.
Where Connor needs to improve is the dirty side of the game, tracking back when he loses the ball, cutting off the ball down the line and tracking the overlapping opposition fullback. Perhaps this is why he’s been used as a number 10 of late where less defensive responsibility is needed.
In my opinion he is still a far better winger if he can improve the other side of his game.
Hunte, like Graham, has also been involved with the first team squad during 2014/15, being the 19/20th man and just missing out on the bench on a few occasions.
Position: Right Wing
Eusebio Bancessi has had a poor 2014/15. After injuries and an average loan spell with relegated Cheltenham Town, he has struggled for Under 21 minutes on his return.
So why am I including him in this list? The last three U21 games, coming off the bench he looks like the sort of player that I know he can be and looks to be getting fitter and returning to some sort of form.
I have seen his potential and he has all the attributes to be very good. He’s big, quick, strong and has a knack of scoring goals. But needs to improve his decision making in the final 3rd and get his head up with better options available.
The reason I don’t think he’s had first team minutes previously is, like Hunte, the dirty side of his game in tracking back and defensive positioning does not come easy to him. If he listens to the Wolves coaches hopefully he will reach his potential.
Position: Right Wing
Massive make or break year for Zele. I was pleased to see that the powers at Wolves gave him a new contract.
He has fantastic natural ability, is comfortable with both feet, direct and can go past players with ease. The problem with Zele is his consistency and that he’s very injury prone. All I would like to see from Ismail in 2015/2016 is a full season of games injury free, either at Wolves or out on loan.
I do support the clubs stance playing the long game with Zele because he does have something and previous very bad injuries have set him back, which means he’s catching up now. Hopefully everything is coming together for him in the future.
Position: Left Back
I have included Ben in my top 5 for a few key reasons. Primarily because he’s had a good steady season with the U21’s and has good attributes: he’s strong in the tackle, attacking and uses the ball well.
He’s also included because left back is a problem position in the first team and him being in and around the squad will give us another natural option. Where I think he will struggle is, because he’s quite slight, he could get dominated physically, especially with the big angled ball and defending incoming crosses.
If the five players I have highlighted aren’t in and around the first team, I would like to see them playing first team football out on loan. With the possibility of them following Jack Price and Kortney Hause’s example in returning to compete for the 1st team after loan spells.
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