By Richard Trenchard
A significant moment of the January transfer window was the signing of Dele Alli from MK Dons by Spurs. It’s good that Premier League teams can still spot a player who has been doing well in League One and give him a chance to shine in a higher division and help their cause in the title race.
It used to be a common place occurrence in the past, but these days it seems the gamble of signing a lower league player just doesn’t seem to happen quite so much. But the Dele Alli transfer got us thinking. Who else is there in the lower divisions that could make it in the Premier League?
Andy Williams (Swindon Town)
As Swindon Town push for promotion from League One, the form of striker Andy Williams can’t have gone unnoticed. After a promising start to his career at Hereford United, he moved to Bristol Rovers. In 2007 he scored on his debut just four minutes after coming on as substitute for a certain striker named Rickie Lambert.
After spells back at Hereford and then Yeovil, his career seemed to stall and last season he missed several months due to a knee ligament injury. He’s overcome that setback big time this season scoring 18 league goals so far. If he continues with that kind of form then there may well be a few Premier League managers who can’t take their eyes off him.
Matt Smith (Fulham, currently on loan at Bristol City)
Sometimes a loan spell can really kick-start a stuttering career and that seems to be the case with Matt Smith. His time at Bristol City this season has seen him score goals aplenty with 11 in 14 games. He’s definitely not on the Christmas card list of any Gillingham fans after scoring all five of City’s goals against the Gills in the JP Trophy. His loan deal runs out on March 1, and if he continues his current form, he could well prove to be a success at a higher level.
Jed Wallace (Portsmouth)
It may not have been the easiest of seasons for Portsmouth but the form of Jed Wallace has continued to draw admirers. The former England under-19 international turns 22 next month and has already scored 12 goals this campaign. Both Stoke City and Leicester City have showed interest in signing Wallace, but last year he signed a three-year contract with Portsmouth. However, with Pompey still likely to be in League Two next season, it might be hard to resist any future offers from Premier League teams in the future.
Daniel Bentley (Southend)
The 21-year-old is regarded as one of the best goalkeepers in League Two. He hasn’t missed a league game since April 2013 and has kept more than 30 clean sheets in the past two seasons. Southend admit they received a sizeable offer from a Premier League team last season. The young goalkeeper may be only halfway through a three-year deal with the club but is still on the wanted list of several sides. QPR, Brentford and Nottingham Forest were all rumoured to be interested in signing him during the January transfer window and he looks destined to be snapped up sooner or later.
Luke Freeman (Bristol City)
Freeman has already had one crack at the big time after being transferred from Charlton to Arsenal in 2008. He consistently scored for their academy and reserve side but never appeared for the first team. He’s done well in the lower divisions with Stevenage and Yeovil and has been a mainstay in the Bristol City side this season. Success at a higher level is definitely not out of the question and it would be interesting to see how he gets on if City wins promotion this time around.