EFL Reporter @simgholam
Sky Bet EFL: Five things to look out for this weekend
Bradley Dack could be the next EFL player to make the England grade, Adam Reach keeps scoring rockets for Sheffield Wednesday and Accrington are on the rise.
Last Updated: 05/10/18 4:53pm
We cast our eye over five things to look out for in the Sky Bet Championship, League One and League Two this weekend.
Dack the next man to back?
Whether it's by choice or by force, it seems the fashion now is for players to have some kind of Football League upbringing before making the grade for England.
Seventeen of Gareth Southgate's 23-man squad at the World Cup had played in the EFL before. James Maddison is flourishing in the Premier League after stints at Coventry and Norwich and has now received a call-up, and so has Mason Mount, who has impressed so much for Derby that he becomes a rare Championship outfield player to also make the cut.
So who could be next to make the step from EFL to England? Our guess here at Five Things would be Bradley Dack, the rugged-looking 24-year-old who already has seven goals in nine appearances from midfield this season and has previously played nearly 200 games for Gillingham in League Two and League One, while also having a brief stint on loan in the Conference with Braintree Town in 2012.
"There can be a naivety around Bradley," said Blackburn boss Tony Mowbray last month. "You can see from the way he plays his football, he's like a kid in the street or in the playground at school. He just wants to get on the ball, stick it through your legs and run around the other side then bend it into the top corner and run off and celebrate."
Dack and his team-mates were thwarted in a midweek defeat to Sheffield United but Blackburn travel to Bolton on Saturday evening, live on Sky Sports Football, giving him another platform to show to a wider audience what he can do.
Reach scoring rockets for Wednesday
"It wasn't even his best goal of the week," said Jules Warren on Soccer Special on Wednesday night after Adam Reach had thundered another incredible effort in for Sheffield Wednesday.
And he was probably right. Reach's goal against Leeds the Friday before was even better than the one against West Brom. It was from a similar distance but the dip on the strike that deceived Bailey Peacock-Farrell just raised it a cut above the other.
No one has scored as many as Reach (five) from outside the box in the Championship since the start of last season (excluding free-kicks), and all of those goals have been his only for Wednesday in that time.
The average distance of those strikes is an incredible 28 yards, four have been scored with his trusty left foot and one has been with his right.
Sheffield Wednesday travel to Bristol City on Sunday, live on the red button on Sky Sports Football and on the Sky Sports mobile app. Anticipation will be high every time the ball finds its way to Reach in pretty much any area inside the opposition half. But he couldn't do it again, could he?
It was time for Bruce to go
One of the main criticisms of Steve Bruce was that his Aston Villa side seemed to be playing without any kind of discernible philosophy, regardless of the results he was, or wasn't, achieving.
A talented squad seemed to be playing in somewhat muddled fashion without any real plan of attack, and nothing represents muddled thinking more than allowing Glenn Whelan, a man who has scored one goal since 2011, to take a last-gasp potentially tenure-saving penalty.
"I think it is the right decision on a footballing level for Villa as a club and for their prospects this season," said Not The Top 20 Podcast's Ali Maxwell, who was a guest on EFL Matters on Thursday night. "Anyone who has watched this Villa side over the last two months will have seen a team lacking cohesion and direction."
LISTEN: EFL Matters podcast
Ali Maxwell and George Elek from the Not the Top 20 Podcast join David Prutton in this week's EFL Matters.
His fellow podcaster George Elek agreed. "I think this season has been very poor with just one win in their last 10 games in all competitions and just one clean sheet in that time," he said. "It's an ageing squad and they have paid big money for players as well, so they need fresh blood in the dugout."
Kevin MacDonald will begin his third caretaker stint in charge of the club for the trip to Millwall on Saturday, giving the club the international break to look for their new man to take the helm.
Championship fixtures (Saturday 3pm KO unless stated)
Accrington keep defying expectations
Sometimes you have to take a step back and remember this is Accrington's first season at this level in their history.
It didn't start well in Sky Bet League One for John Coleman's side as they lost at home to Gillingham (a team currently languishing 22nd), but since then Stanley have gone unbeaten.
There have been five wins, including their last three games in a row, and five draws. And they head to Shrewsbury on Saturday fifth in the table.
Vitally, Accrington have started keeping clean sheets as well, with their first two of the season coming in their last two games. All five of their wins so far have come by just a single goal and every draw has been 1-1, so a team that doesn't blow teams away will need to do all they can to keep them out.
It remains to be seen whether they can keep up their push for promotion. They are, for example, ranked as less likely with Sky Bet to achieve promotion than Southend, Blackpool, Fleetwood and Rochdale, clubs who sit 11th, 12th, 13th and 15th in the table. But it's worth remembering that no one gave them a chance last season either.
Will Macclesfield finally win a game?
They couldn't have got any closer. A two-goal lead was thrown away at Newport but then Macclesfield looked like they had snatched it with a late penalty.
The Silkmen were 3-2 up when six minutes of time were added on, and after seven the home side struck, Jamille Matt getting the equaliser and breaking hearts in the process.
Macclesfield are now the only side in Sky Bet League Two without a win and are currently propping up the Football League. They are four points adrift and that already looks a big gap for a side with just four draws from 11 games so far.
Manager Mark Yates knows in no uncertain terms that his side need to get more savvy. "My only criticism is we haven't seen the game out, but we're heading in the right direction," he said following the draw at Rodney Parade. "I don't think it's a confidence thing with us, we're just a bit naive at times.
"We need to be more streetwise, but we showed plenty of togetherness and there is no point bleating about where we are in the table. We've just got to improve." Notts County at home on Saturday would be a good place to start.