Five to watch
Matty Briggs picks out five of League Two's most promising players to keep an eye on this season.
Last Updated: 07/08/12 9:31am
With the Football League set to get underway on August 18, we pick out a quintet of stars who might just light up the bottom tier over the next ten months. Bradford, Cheltenham, Southend, York and Oxford supply the players to make the top five with Jake Forster-Caskey a late inclusion following Eunan O'Kane's move from Torquay to League One outfit Bournemouth.
Wells grabbed his chance at Valley Parade last December after an injury to fellow striker Ross Hannah. The frontman, who was seen as 'one for the future' when he signed in the summer of 2011 via the Richmond International Academic & Soccer Academy (RIASA) coaching project, certainly made the most of his chance and asserted himself as one of Phil Parkinson's star performers. He bagged 10 league goals from 18 starts last term and the Bermudian looks like a striker with the potential to play at least a couple of leagues above his current level.
Unsurprisingly, he was offered increased terms on his Valley Parade contract for the coming season as the Bradford hierarchy quickly realised he was worth considerably more than the £250-a-week he was reportedly picking up.
Wells has lightning speed, terrific movement, remarkable bravery and the ability to score every type of goal. This has been demonstrated in pre-season - scoring in four of the club's five friendly games. His shooting from distance is also one of his key attributes, as Rochdale found out last season when Wells rattled home a 30-yarder in Bradford's FA Cup win at Valley Parade.
Pack was another member of last season's League Two Team of the Year after helping Cheltenham into the play-offs. The youngster lead by example from the middle of the park and scored seven times in 2011/12, including a goal in the play-off semi-final win over Torquay. He and his Cheltenham team-mates found Crewe simply too good in the final, but Pack is sure to be the backbone of another promotion tilt from the Robins.
The former Portsmouth trainee loves to get forward to support his strikers and he managed eight assists in league action, but a key feature of his game is also his combative nature. Tough-tackling Pack picked up 11 yellow cards last term, but his competitive edge and mobility have made him a key member of Cheltenham's side and also a transfer target for teams at Championship level.
Hall has hit the headlines for his off-the-field actions in recent years, but the highly-rated winger knuckled down last season and ended the campaign as Southend's top scorer with 14 goals. Hall's creative ability caught the eye last term as he managed a staggering 19 assists - more than any other player in England.
Signed from Bromley in July 2010, Hall is equally at home on the left or right wing and has pace and ability in equal measure and has been attracting the interest of Peterborough United. The former Crystal Palace man added consistency to his game last season and there are high hopes his link-up play with Freddy Eastwood and his early balls into the box will be a key factor as the Shrimpers plot for promotion.
Blair was the scorer of important goals for the Minstermen last season as he bagged in the play-off semi-final, play-off final and the FA Trophy win. The versatile forward netted 20 goals in all competitions and looks more than capable of making the step up to league football from the Blue Square Premier. York snapped up Blair from Kidderminster at the start of last season and he was a major driving force in getting his side promoted via the play-off final at Wembley.
He can play all across the front line and was right at home in York's three-pronged attack last term. Blair often pops up in the right place at the right time and has displayed all the instincts of a natural goal poacher. His movement and ball control is sure to catch the eye in League Two and City might be hard pressed to keep their prized asset if he continues where he left off.
Club: Oxford (six-month loan from Brighton)
Despite Forster-Caskey only being drafted into the top-five list as a late replacement for former Torquay midfielder Eunan O'Kane, the youngster looks primed for a big season. The elegant ball-player was recently snapped up by Oxford on a six-month loan from Brighton and Forster-Caskey, after featuring heavily in pre-season, looks all set for a prominent attacking role in Oxford's midfield. After making his senior debut in 2010 aged 16, Caskey-Forster became Brighton's youngest player to feature in the first team.
He went on to make six appearances during the 2011-12 season and scored twice, including a goal and a man-of-the-match performance on his full debut against Southampton. The son of former Reading star Darren Caskey penned a new long-term deal with the Seagulls this summer and is very highly thought of on the south coast, but Brighton are keen to get Forster-Caskey first-team football and Oxford look set to benefit. The England Under-16, Under-17 and Under-18 international will bring some poise and composure to the U's and he is expected to be a major driving force for Chris Wilder's men.