25th August – Luke Ayling

Luke Ayling has been one of the best defenders in the Championship for a lot of his career and will be hoping he can make the step up to the Premier League soon.

The defender usually plays at right back but he can also fill in at centre half or play as one of the defenders when his manager decided to play three at the back. Under the stewardship of a manager like Marcelo Bielsa he will surely get better and will be hoping that this could be the manager that takes him to the top flight.

Ayling started his career at Arsenal and despite an impressive record at youth level in which he was part of their double winning team of the 2008-09 season, he failed to make a first team appearance for the club but was named on the substitute bench for a Champions League game against Greek side Olympiakos. Towards the end of his time at the club he signed for Yeovil Town on loan in March 2010. He played four times and did enough to convince them to sign him permanently.

Ayling YT

In his first full season he was a key player, making 40 appearances, however his disciplinary record was quite poor as he picked up 13 yellow and two red cards. He played in 40 games every season he was at the club and helped them win the League One playoff final on the 19th May 2013 and therefore secured them a place in the Championship. The team found it very tough in the higher division but Ayling was certainly one of the bright spots.

After relegation, Ayling decided not to sign a new contract with the club and joined Bristol City on a free transfer. It turned out to be an impressive season as he played 58 times in all competitions and Bristol City went on to win the League One title and the Football League Trophy beating Walsall 2-0 at Wembley on the 22nd March 2015. He would continue to impress in the following season as they managed to avoid relegation in the following campaign, playing 33 times at either right back or centre back.

Ayling BC

On the 11th August 2016 the right back signed for Leeds United and would play 43 times in his first season. With many changes at the club throughout his time there so far, he has managed to convince every manager that has been in charge that he deserves his place in the team. During the 2017-18 season he was also named as the club’s vice captain and was also rewarded with a new four year contract. He had to wait until the 18th August 2018 to score his first goal for Leeds in a game against Rotherham United.

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The final word can go to Steve Cotterill. “He’s a very versatile player and therefore offers us competition and cover in a variety of positions. He was instrumental in Yeovil’s promotion from League One and did very well in the Championship.”

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22nd March – Luke Freeman

Luke Freeman has had a double celebration today after turning 23 and also helping Bristol City defeat Walsall 2-0 in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy final.

The midfielder is looking to have a fantastic end to a season that has already been pretty special for Bristol City and their fans as they look like they are going to get promoted to the Championship as League One champions. Freeman has always been a very good player and one that definitely has the ability to prove it at a higher level so he will be hoping that the club can secure promotion as quickly as possible so he can prepare for the second tier of English football.

Freeman started his career at Gillingham where he made his debut against Barnet in the FA Cup on the 10th November 2007 at the age of just 15 years and 233 days, therefore becoming Gillingham’s youngest ever player and also the youngest player to appear in the FA Cup. Later in the month he would also make his league debut against Hartlepool United and his performances caught the eye of several Premier League clubs and joined Arsenal on trial in December 2007.

Arsenal signed Freeman on the 30th January 2008 and after impressing for the under 18s he was given a professional contract by the club just over a year later. After progressing through the youth teams and into the reserves he needed first team opportunities and joined Yeovil Town on loan at the start of the 2010-11 season. He got off to a great start scoring in a 2-1 win over Leyton Orient on his debut and would go on to play 12 more league games for the club before his loan was ended by injury.

Freeman YT

He recovered from his injury and would impress again for Arsenal’s reserves and was eager to go back out on loan, this time joining Stevenage on the 17th November 2011. In his second loan spell away he played nine games and scored one goal in a 6-1 win over Colchester United but his performances particularly off the bench were exciting and showed he had a lot of potential. This convinced Stevenage to sign Freeman permanently on the 10th January 2012. He would help the club reach the playoffs with seven goals in 32 games but unfortunately they would lose out in the semi finals.

Freeman Stevenage

The 2012-13 wasn’t as successful for the midfielder as he struggled for consistency and spent a lot of the season featuring as a substitute. However in the following season, despite Stevenage finishing bottom of League One, he put in some fantastic performances and ended the campaign with a career best eight goals. After 128 games and 17 goals for Stevenage, Freeman would leave for Bristol City on the 26th June 2014.

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So far for Bristol City he has played 48 times in all competitions, scored seven goals and provided 15 assists which just shows how important he is to the side and is a big reason why they are challenging at the top of the table.

The final word can go to Steve Cotterill. “He’s someone we’ve been keeping tabs on for some time and I’m delighted we’ve been able to bring Luke on board. He’s a good, young, exciting player. He’s an excellent addition to the football club for the short term and long term. He can play on the left, on the right and cut in, or play in a midfield three.”

27th February – Jonjo Shelvey

Jonjo Shelvey is a player with incredible talent and he is going to be a very important player for Swansea City until the end of the season and for the next few years.

The midfielder is only 23 but he seems to have been around for a very long time and some people have criticised his development as he could have been a regular in England’s midfield by this point. Shelvey has a lot of talent and will definitely add to his one England cap but he definitely needs to add more consistency to his game if he is going to be one of the best players in the country.

Shelvey started his career at Charlton Athletic and became the youngest player to ever play for the club in April 2008 after making his debut as a substitute against Barnsley at the age of 16 years and 59 days. He would also go on to become the club’s youngest ever goalscorer after finding the back of the net against Norwich City in January 2009. On his 17th birthday he signed his first professional contract and was quickly known as one of the most promising youngsters in England. After 49 games and eight goals, Shelvey joined Liverpool and made his debut in their shock defeat to Northampton Town in the League Cup.

Shelvey CA

In his first season he played 21 times for the club but on the 30th September 2011 he joined Blackpool on loan and scored the following day in a 5-0 win over Bristol City and a few weeks later he would score his first professional hatrick against Leeds United. Due to injuries at his parent club he was recalled after six goals in 10 games for Blackpool. Just before the end of the season he scored from 30 yards against Chelsea in a 4-1 win and was rewarded with a new long term contract for his performances over the season. However, he only lasted one more season at the club.

Shelvey Liverpool

On the 3rd July 2013 he signed for Swansea City and was involved in a very eventful game against former club Liverpool soon afterwards. He scored and assisted teammate Michu’s goal but was also responsible for both of Liverpool’s goals in a 2-2 draw. Since he has been quite consistent and an important member of the Swansea team but a regular criticism of him is his disciplinary which manager Garry Monk has tried to get out of his game. He was sent off against Everton on the 1st November 2014 and then should have seen red again on the 29th December in a game against Liverpool.

Swansea City's Jonjo Shelvey

A lot of people do forget how young Shelvey still is and he has a lot of time to develop and will be a fantastic player for Swansea for many years to come.

The final word can go to Garry Monk. “His quality is there for everyone to see – his passing, the way he moves with the ball, how he offers good angles and movements and fits into defensive shape. Performance-wise, he’s capable of running a game, grabbing it by the scruff of the neck and really dictating it.”

24th February – Kevin O’Connor

One club players don’t come around too often and Kevin O’Connor has progressed right from the youth team at Brentford to now being part of their coaching staff.

He is only 33 but it seems like he is focusing on the next stage of his career as he has had limited playing time this season but he will be happy to still be involved at Brentford. They are definitely a team on the up despite the uncertainties around the managerial position. Since signing for the club he has played in every position and is currently fourth on Brentford’s all time appearance list.

O’Connor first signed with Brentford as a striker and after a run of 23 goals in 30 reserve games he was given a professional contract in 1999. He went on to make his debut on the 15th February 2000 as a substitute in the Football League Trophy defeat to Exeter City and went on to make his first start in a draw with Wycombe Wanderers a few days later. An injury slowed his progress and he had to wait over a year to score his first goal in a 2-1 win over Bristol City.

OC Brent 1

After Steve Coppell became manager in 2001, O’Connor became a regular in the side and made 32 appearances helping his club reach the playoffs, unfortunately they were beaten in the final by Stoke City. New manager Wally Downes was impressed by his performances and he was an ever present in the side for the following campaign and was now seen as a winger and contributed nine goals.

During the 2004-05 season O’Connor was moved to right back and was given the captain’s armband on the 19th October against Hartlepool United. The season again ended in disappointment as they were defeated in the playoffs, this time by Sheffield Wednesday. He would go on to suffer even more heartbreak in the playoffs in the 2005-06 season but he did manage to score eight times in 38 games. Even worse was to follow as the club were relegated in 2007 after finishing bottom.

OC Brent 3

Relegation meant another position change for O’Connor as he played predominantly in the centre of midfield in League Two. He started off well in his new position by scoring goals against Notts County and Barnet in August 2007. But he only added one more goal over the course of the season as the club finished midtable. In the following season Brentford won the league and O’Connor was awarded a new contract. He was impressive once again in League One and made 49 appearances over the season and was given a testimonial at the end of the campaign.

The 2010-11 season was the last one that he featured regularly for the club as injuries stopped him from playing. But he was on the pitch for one of the most exciting endings to the season ever against Doncaster Rovers in the final game of the 2012-13 season. Brentford were awarded a penalty in the last minute and Marcello Trotta took the ball off O’Connor but missed the spot kick and Doncaster ran down the other end and scored, winning the game 1-0 meaning Brentford and O’Connor had to go through the playoffs. Once again they failed to get promoted after losing against Yeovil Town.

OC Brent 2

Finally in the next campaign they would get promoted to the Championship and on the final day of the season O’Connor made his 500th appearance for the club. Since promotion he has not played a league game but he has been an important member of the coaching staff, helping the team challenge for the playoffs and will be needed now more than ever with Mark Warburton expected to leave in the summer.

The final word can go to Mark Warburton. “Kevin has seen so much change at the club and yet has maintained his exceedingly high standards throughout and it is this outstanding quality that we need to keep at Brentford. I am delighted that Kevin O’Connor will be extending his stay at the club.”

10th October – Lee Trundle

Lee Trundle is a legend at Swansea City, enjoying a very successful spell at the club and delighting their fans with his goals and his skills.

Although he was a striker, it was not just his goals that impressed the fans, it was his all round play and the way that he easily got passed players with skill. He is back at Swansea now after being appointed their Club Ambassador and Youth Coach on the 25th June 2013 which shows how important he is to the club and how highly they still think of him.
The 38 year old did not have the easiest starts to his football career and was a late comer to the professional game and had to have spells at non league sides Burscough, Stalybridge Celtic, Southport, Bamber Bridge and Chorley before moving to Welsh side Rhyl.

He only spent six months at the Welsh Premier League side and after scoring 15 goals in just 18 games, he caught the attention of Wrexham manager Brian Flynn. Wrexham signed the striker during the 2000-01 season and was an immediate hit, scoring eight times in just 14 games in the Second Division. His first goal was a crucial one for the club as on the 24th February 2001 he scored a bicycle kick against Walsall to kick start a comeback from 2-0 down and Wrexham eventually went on to win the game 3-2.
Trundle Wrexham
Trundle spent just over two years at the club and ended his time there with 30 goals in 78 starts which is a decent record, especially when you consider that they were relegated in his second season. But in the summer of 2003 he moved to another Welsh side in Swansea and teamed up once again with Brian Flynn. On his debut against Bury he became an instant hero by scoring and showed off his extraordinary tricks that began to get him mainstream attention, particularly on the TV show Soccer AM where he was regularly featured.

In four of his five seasons at the club he hit at least 20 goals. He was always linked with moves away from the club but he did stay loyal to Swansea and in October 2005 he became the first player outside of the Premier League to sign an image rights contract which offered a portion of revenues from merchandise featuring his image.
Trundle SC
After 78 goals in 146 appearances he eventually left Swansea on the 30th July 2007 and signed for Bristol City. It was believed that City had put in four bids for the striker before they eventually landed their target. Unfortunately he never really hit the heights at the club and only managed seven goals in 53 league games and had to go out on loan to Leeds United and back to Swansea to get some more game time.
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When his contract expired at Bristol City he wanted to rejoin Swansea permanently but they only offered him a coaching role which Trundle rejected. In July 2010 he joined Welsh side Neath but his time there only lasted two years as the club struggled with financial problems. After leaving the club, the striker went on trial with Preston and earned a one year contract, however a knee injury meant he didn’t get to play much and his contract was terminated on the 8th February. Short spells at Chester and Marine followed but Trundle retired from professional football at the end of the 2012-13 season.

The final word can go to Swansea chairman Huw Jenkins. “Lee was a great player and ambassador for this football club. I know what the club means to him and how much the fans adore him so we are all delighted to welcome him back in this new role.”

17th September – Sean Scannell

Huddersfield Town have had a difficult start to the season but now they have Chris Powell in charge they will be hoping they can pull away from the relegation zone and birthday boy Sean Scannell could play a big role.

They drew 0-0 with Wigan Athletic in their last fixture and the 24 year old winger came on as a substitute in the 46th minute and although he could not produce a bit of magic to put his team in front, he did a very good job defensively and as always put in a decent shift for his side. A lot was expected of the wide man when he first broke through and although he hasn’t quite lived up to that potential, he certainly has time to put that right and play in the top flight.

His first club was Crystal Palace and after being a constant threat in the youth team and also in the reserves he made the step up to the first team during the 2007-08 season. He made his debut in December 2007 after coming on as a substitute in a 2-1 win over QPR and then in his home debut on the 15th December he scored a last minute winner against Sheffield Wednesday after once again coming on as a sub. He played 25 times in his first season and scored twice.
Sean Scannell, Crystal Palace
Before signing a professional contract with the club he was linked with Premier League teams but decided to stay with Palace and celebrated his new contract by scoring the second goal in a 3-0 win over Wolves. At the end of the 2008-09 season he was voted the Championship Apprentice of the Year after showing his potential and showing that he can add consistency to his game.
Scannell ROI
Unfortunately a knee injury at the start of the 2010-11 season meant he missed the first half of the campaign but recovered to have arguably the best season of his career in the following year. Under new manager Dougie Freedman, Scannell once again began showing his potential and this was because of a slight change to his position, as he was now given more freedom to roam around the pitch. He finished the campaign with a career high of four goals but was involved in a lot more goals and caused defences a lot of problems with his pace and direct running.

On the 22nd June 2012 he finally left Palace and became Simon Grayson’s first permanent signing at Huddersfield Town. He made his debut on the 17th August in a 1-0 defeat to Cardiff City and went on to score his first goal for the club against Bristol City on the 3rd November and it proved to be a vital one as it was the only goal of the game.
Scannell HT
For a 24 year old he has played a lot of games, already over 200, and this just shows that he has a lot of potential and with the majority of these appearances coming in the Championship he will be hoping that one day he can show his talents in the top flight.

The final word can go to Simon Grayson. “He is a brilliant addition. Despite his young age, he brings bags of experience. He is an exciting, young, talented footballer who is very adaptable. Hopefully he will be able to fulfil his potential with us.”

4th September – Richard Garcia

Hull City have had a very good summer transfer window but it wasn’t long ago that they had to rely on free transfers and not big name players.

Richard Garcia is 33 today and is one of the players that helped get Hull back into the top divisions and get the fans excited about the club once again. Garcia may not have been the best player in the world but he definitely worked hard for the side. The fans may have a lot to look forward to now but it is only because of the hard work of the players that came before that allowed this to happen.

Garcia started his career at West Ham signing his first professional contract in 1998. He scored in every round of West Ham’s run to the Youth Cup final as they won the trophy. In August 2000 he was ready for first team football and was loaned out to Leyton Orient where he played 21 times and scored four goals. After an injury to his knee ligaments he returned to his parent club and made his debut for them in a League Cup match away to Reading in September 2001.

After West Ham were relegated from the Premier League, Garcia was expecting more game time but this didn’t happen and after just 22 games for the club he joined Colchester United in 2004. In his first season he scored six goals in 30 appearances but it was in the following campaign that he showed his true potential, helping Colchester gain promotion to the Championship and also reaching the fifth round of the FA Cup. A knee injury ended his season in March but he scored Colchester’s first goal in the 2006-07 season against Birmingham City on the opening day of the new Championship season.
Garcia CU
Colchester were the surprise package and pushed for a place in the playoffs but Garcia’s seven goals in 36 games was just not good enough to secure them a place in the top six. At the end of the season Garcia had played 96 games in all competitions and scored 21 goals and despite being offered a new contract decided to join Hull City.

He made his league debut for Hull against Plymouth Argyle and scored his first goal in the following game against Crewe. In his first season Garcia played a leading role in the club’s promotion push and they secured their place in the Premier League after defeating Bristol City in the Playoff final. He was also awarded the goal of the season award after hitting a 35 yard screamer against Burnley in March 2008.
Hull City v Stoke 08 November 2009
In the Premier League Garcia only took two games to score his first goal of the season, securing a point away to Blackburn Rovers, however this would turn out to be his only goal in the top flight in two seasons and had to wait until the 12th November to score again, when he scored against Preston in a 2-0 win back in the Championship. After injuries disrupted the rest of his time at the club he left after 128 games and returned to his homeland of Australia.
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On the 23rd August 2012 Garcia joined Melbourne Heart and stayed for one season, scoring six times in just 24 games but decided to move to Sydney FC in the next summer where he had a similar record, 6 goals in 23 games. But once again he only spent one season at the club and joined Minnesota United on the 5th May 2014 but after just two appearances he left and recently joined Perth Glory on a two year contract.

The final word can go to Melbourne Heart head coach John Aloisi. “Richard can play a number of roles. The experience he possesses isn’t something you encounter too often. He will assume a leadership role on the pitch and will be an important guide for our younger players.”