TARGETS (National League)
Ryan Deeney scans the hotbed of the National League for potential EFL talents.
Note from Ali Maxwell: Welcome to the third and final part of our TARGETS series where, this time, we’re heading into the non-league with a trusted and reliable guide in Ryan Deeney.
Waaaaaaaaaait a hot second. This isn’t the EFL?!
Following my NTT20 debut on Weekend Notes, Ali and George agreed that it would be a good idea to let me go rogue and talk about the National League as part of their pre-January transfer series, highlighting players that turn clubs all Philip J. Fry.
Non-league has always been a hotbed for talent and its top tier has proven especially fruitful in recent years – and I’m not just talking about those leading promotion charges at Stockport County, Wrexham, Notts County and Barrow.
Jamie Vardy is perhaps its most famous export, swapping Fleetwood Town and Skittles Vodka for England honours and a Premier League title but it’s easy to forget that it is where Joe Hart, Andre Gray, Jarrod Bowen and Glenn Murray, amongst others, started out.
In more recent years, we can look towards Jack Taylor, who may well join the above in becoming a top-flight footballer next season with Ipswich Town, Ronnie Edwards, Ephron Mason-Clark and Ryan De Havilland. There are even players who didn’t make the switch from Barnet to Peterborough United, including Ruben Rodrigues (Oxford United), Armani Little (AFC Wimbledon), Sonny Carey (Blackpool) and Kellen Fisher (Norwich City).
Like Ali, my list contains players aged 23 or under, following the assumption that clubs want resale value on their contracted personnel. And also, let’s be honest, because it’s a lot more fun working out who the next big thing may be.