Five to Watch
Thomas Hill picks out five of League One's most promising players to keep an eye on this season.
Last Updated: 08/08/12 9:39am
With the Football League set to get underway on 18th August, we pick out a quintet of players who might just light up the third tier over the next ten months. Sheffield United, relegated duo Coventry City and Doncaster Rovers, promoted Shrewsbury Town, and Colchester United supply the players to make the top five.
Club: Sheffield United
Maguire was an ever-present member of the Sheffield United team that missed out on promotion in agonising fashion in the play-off final against Huddersfield Town last season. The 6ft 2in defender impressed from the off last season, winning the young player of the month award for August. Maguire bagged a goal at the start of the season, before finishing the season with 54 appearances in all competitions.
The Blades spotted Maguire at Barnsley and recently tied him to a contract until the summer of 2015. In 2011, United's youngsters reached the FA Youth Cup final, with Maguire impressing throughout. In April of 2011 he made his first-team debut against Cardiff City and is now considered to be one of the first names on the team sheet at Bramall Lane.
Maguire will be looking to use his physical presence and quick feet once again this season to help Sheffield United back to the Championship at the second time of asking.
In the 2011/12 season, Grandison became a real fans' favourite amongst the Shrewsbury fans. Known for his ability with the ball going forward, Grandison scored two goals last season from defence which proved to be match winners in the Shrews' chase for promotion.
Grandison joined Town on a free transfer last summer after impressing on loan from Coventry City. In his first full season under Graham Turner, Grandison made 40 starts as Shrewsbury gained promotion to League One.
At 6ft 4in Grandison is a powerful asset to Turner in the third tier of English football. His powerful runs forward could cause opposition defences a few problems as Shrewsbury will look to build on a very successful 2011/12 season.
Coventry could well have made one of the signings of the summer, snapping up Fleck after the youngster decided against transferring his contract over to the newco Rangers. Fleck signed a three-year-deal with the Sky Blues and will be looking for a successful first full season in League One.
The winger was once branded the 'Scottish Wayne Rooney' after he broke into the spotlight at Rangers as a 15-year-old. In the 2009/10 season, Fleck became an established member of the first-team squad, making 23 appearances and scoring two goals. Last season, the Scotland Under 21 international fell out of favour at Rangers and moved to Blackpool on loan, making seven appearances with three from the bench.
Fleck has pace and skill on the ball and Sky Blues boss Andy Thorn will be hoping his new recruit can come of age this season.
Sears broke onto the professional scene way back in 2008 at the tender age of 18 for West Ham in the Premier League. After scoring on his debut, the future looked bright for Sears but his career has flattened out of late.
A short loan spell last season at Colchester United gave Sears his confidence back in front of goal, scoring two goals from five starts. Sears signed a three-year-deal with the Us earlier this summer and time will tell if he can finally get a full season under his belt within the Football League.
A former England youth and Under 21 international, Sears was a prolific scorer in the West Ham reserves. His pace will cause real problems this season and, with a potential regular starting place, Sears could well find his feet to try and help Colchester to their fourth successive top-ten finish.
Gifted with blistering pace and flair, Kyle Bennett surprised a few Championship teams last season as he made his mark despite a disappointing season for the Rovers fans. The former Wolves trainee managed to score four goals in 15 starts, playing in an attacking midfield role.
Bennett has experience lower down the Football League after a spell with Bury in 2010. Rovers manager Dean Saunders firmly believes that Bennett can one day grace the Premier League, but he will have to impress for Donny this season.
The winger, who is the younger brother of Norwich's Elliott Bennett, will be one to watch this season if he stays at the Keepmoat Stadium.