Four bright young Leicester stars to look out for
Leciester City, 3/1 for a top 10 finish, have made a spirited start to life in the Premier League after a 10-year absence from the top-flight.
After securing impressive results, including an away win at Stoke City and draws against Arsenal and Everton, their immediate future looks promising, but the Foxes hierarchy are clearly looking further forward than just survival at the end of the season.
Many promoted teams focus solely on keeping their heads above water, but the East Midlands side clearly aspire to more if their recruitment policy is anything to go by.
The Foxes have been slowly collecting an English core, mainly acquired from Premier League giants Manchester United, and supplemented by bigger money buys such as Leonardo Ulloa. However, the young pups in their ranks are where the excitement should lie for Leicester fans.
Whilst Crewe academy product Powell is only on loan from United, overcrowding in attacking positions at Old Trafford could mean that a successful stint at the King Power Stadium becomes permanent.
Foxes fans should certainly keep an eye on the England Under-21 international, who can operate in a number of positions across midfield and attack.
Speaking after his summer switch, Powell indicated he sees himself as a number 10, and giving the youngster game time in his favoured role could see him flourish.
Powell has already proven he can be a potent offensive option. He often led the line for Crewe, making the most of his freedom up front with 16 goals in the 2011/12 campaign, and it was this fearsome form that led to his capture by United.
A loan to Championship battlers Wigan eventually followed, with Powell impressing immediately, hitting home 12 in all competitions for the Lactics last term.
Despite his languid style, the youngster is capable of contributing more than just goals though, and, through hard work, established himself as a regular in Wigan’s starting XI. Foxes fans will be hoping to see more of the same in Leicester blue.
Left-sided attacker Lawrence was also a casualty of United’s big summer spending spree. Being surplus to requirements should not be seen as an affront to the Welsh wing wizard, though, as he certainly has the skillset and talent to make an impact in the Premier League.
After enjoying a dream debut for the Red Devils in their final home game last season, eventually substituted for, and by, boyhood hero and then interim manager Ryan Giggs, it appeared Lawrence was tipped for the very top.
Unfortunately it seems new boss Louis van Gaal did not feel he had room for the tricky 21-year-old, who would have had to push his way past numerous marquee signings to secure a spot in attacking midfield.
At such a crucial point in his career, after shining on loan for Carlisle United and Yeovil, Lawrence left the prospect of emulating Giggs behind, instead opting to follow in the footsteps of a number of fellow Foxes, including Matty James and Danny Drinkwater, by exiting Old Trafford.
At 23 years of age, James is slightly older than the other top prospects featured on this list, and the King Power crowd are certainly no stranger to his talents.
Last season saw the youngster, who is equally adept at assisting attacks or shielding the defence, crowned Leicester’s Young Player of the Season, after making 40 appearances as part of an impressive partnership with Danny Drinkwater.
However, midfield maestro James is still young and, despite having already enjoyed two terms in the Championship, has plenty of potential left to realise in the Premier League.
Injuries saw his progress stall with the Red Devils’ reserves and convinced James, whose brother Reece is currently rising through the ranks at Old Trafford, to move on in the quest for first-team football.
It is a decision that has paid dividends for the Bacup-born box-to-box midfielder, who recently signed a new contract with the club, and is set to return from injury in the coming weeks and finally test his abilities in the top flight.
Son of ex-Liverpool player Nick, it was somewhat of a surprise when the Red Devils released highly-rated youngster Barmby, but Foxes fans should be excited by his acquisition.
The Midlands club have previous experience in plucking potential from United’s academy and, whilst the 19-year-old appears to be headed straight to the side’s Development Squad, the rigours of a long Premier League season could yet see Barmby earn a chance to impress ahead of schedule.
Once shortlisted for United’s Jimmy Murphy Young Player of the Year Award, Leicester and Barmby will be hoping they can prove the Red Devils wrong in letting the England youth prospect depart the Theatre of Dreams.
The adaptable attacker netted five goals in 17 appearances for loan club Hartlepool last season, but fellow forward James Wilson was far ahead of Barmby in the United pecking order. United’s loss could once again be Leicester’s gain though.