Premier League: Five young stars who could benefit as the English top flight returns

With the return of the Premier League only days away, breaks down five of the top talents who could profit from more substitutions as the 2019/20 season resumes.

Published: 4 September 2020 - 3.20pm
Younger players could be afforded more opportunities to play when the Premier League returns

Ahead of the Premier League’s highly-anticipated return, takes a look at five young stars who could take the English top flight by storm when it resumes on Wednesday 17 June.

To protect players’ welfare after a prolonged break, teams will be able to make five substitutions, rather than three, in each match until the end of the season after clubs approved new rules.

Teams will also be able to name nine substitutes instead of the usual seven.

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More substitutions and bigger squads as well as increased fatigue and a congested fixture schedule means plenty of younger players could be afforded more opportunities to play.

Given the spike in muscle injuries sustained by Bundesliga players after the league’s resumption, clubs will have to manage players’ workload to keep a clean bill of health and avoid a similar fate.

But who are the prodigious young stars to look out for? From Phil Foden to Gabriel Martinelli, has you covered.

Mason Greenwood

Manchester United’s Mason Greenwood has enjoyed a breakthrough year at Old Trafford, scoring 12 goals in all competitions, including five in just four Premier League starts.

The academy graduate who made his debut as a late substitute in United’s unforgettable 3-1 win against Paris Saint-Germain in March 2019 has earned a reputation as a fearsome finisher in the formative stages of his career.

Greenwood could stand to gain the most from the Premier League’s decision to increase the number of substitutes given he has so far made the most appearances from the bench out of anyone in the Premier League this season (18).

The English starlet will have increased competition for game time as the likes of Paul Pogba and Marcus Rashford return from injury but manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is likely to closely manage their game time as they return to match fitness.

In another indication Greenwood could be set to benefit from the restart, he was spotted wearing the iconic No.7 shirt as United’s players returned to their home stadium for a run-out on Saturday.

With United hot on the heels of fourth-place Chelsea, Greenwood is set to play a starring role as the league gets up-and-running once again.

Phil Foden

Manchester City’s Phil Foden has struggled for minutes under Pep Guardiola, but the 20-year-old English midfielder is expected to shoulder more responsibility when the Premier League returns.

The England U21 international, widely praised for his technical ability and composure on the ball, could be exposed to more first-team football as the curtain starts to come down on David Silva’s storied career at the Etihad.

Foden has scored three goals in 26 appearances in all competitions this season, including 14 in the Premier League – although the majority of these have been from the bench.

He also starred during the Carabao Cup final win against Aston Villa and was rewarded with a starting berth in the Manchester derby.

City still have work to do to fend off Leicester City and secure second-place in the Premier League and the man Guardiola described in July 2019 as “the most talented player” he has ever seen could have a crucial role to play.

Gabriel Martinelli

Arsenal’s Brazilian wonderkid Gabriel Martinelli has confounded all expectations in his debut season in European football, scoring 10 games in all competitions for the Gunners.

A summer signing from Ituano in the Brazilian lower leagues last summer, the 18-year-old has made 14 Premier League appearances, eight of which were from the substitutes bench.

Mikel Arteta is blessed with an array of attacking talent including Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Alexandre Lacazette and Nicolas Pepe but Martinelli has seized opportunities to feature with both hands.

He scored a scintillating solo effort in a 2-2 draw against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge and also got on the scoresheet against Liverpool at Anfield.

Martinelli has tended to operate off the left when he has played for the Gunners so far this season and his versatility stands him in good stead ahead of the Premier League’s restart.

Despite his age, Arteta will have no qualms deploying his Brazilian prodigy as Arsenal attempt to secure European football for next season – not to mention their bid to win a record 14th FA Cup.

Billy Gilmour

Chelsea’s Scottish sensation Billy Gilmour burst onto the scene from relative obscurity before the lockdown.

The 18-year-old starred in the heart of Chelsea’s midfield in wins over Everton and Liverpool prior to the league’s abrupt postponement.

The 5ft 7in midfielder, who was part of the Rangers academy before moving to London on his 16th birthday, has only made seven appearances in all competitions for the Blues this season.

But he has made his mark. His performance in Chelsea’s 2-0 win over Liverpool in the FA Cup in March in particular earned him widespread plaudits.

With N’Golo Kante yet to fully commit to playing again this season, Gilmour could be a ready-made replacement for Lampard who has shown unwavering faith in his crop of young stars.

Even with Jorginho fit again, Gilmour is set to benefit from the extra substitutions as Chelsea look to consolidate a top four finish.

Curtis Jones

Liverpool’s Curtis Jones has made a name for himself at Anfield after a string of impressive displays this season.

The 19-year-old midfielder who was born and raised in Liverpool has featured mainly in the cup competitions, memorably scoring an extraordinary winner against rivals Everton in the FA Cup third round.

He then became the club’s youngest-ever captain - at 19 years and 5 days old - against Shrewsbury Town in the next round.

Jones, who has represented England at U16, U17, U18 and U19 level, is likely to become a more integral figure of the first-team squad as the season resumes.

The high-energy, combative but composed central midfielder epitomises manager Jurgen Klopp’s intense style and is already a Kop favourite despite only making eight appearances in total.

There is naturally a lot of competition for places at Anfield given Liverpool’s brilliance this season, but Jones looks set to benefit from the extra substitutions stipulation as the Reds claim their first league title since 1990.