Born in the south east of Ireland, Simon put his life-long love of football to good use when he started a successful independent blog in 2010. That opened up an alternative route to a career in journalism, and having had work published across a number of sites and publications, Simon joined the staff at Spotlight Sports Group in 2018.
The 2018/19 FA Cup returns to screen and pitches this week, with 8 fascinating looking 5th Round ties scheduled to be played over 4 days between Friday and Monday.
The competition is famous for consistently pitting David versus Goliath and for providing regular against the odds upsets, though the tournament also gives some of the most talented lower-league players a unique opportunity to rub shoulders with and impress some the country’s biggest clubs.
In the latest round of the FA Cup this week, 5 of the 8 fixtures will be contested between Premier League clubs and sides from further down the English football pyramid.
Ahead of the action, dozens of promising youngsters will be dreaming of making their own match-defining, and potentially career defining impact against an illustrious opponent. Let’s take a closer look at some of the players hoping to turn heads this week.
Eberechi Eze – QPR
Versatile attacking midfielder Eberechi Eze has been drawing interest from several Premier League clubs this season for his all-action performances for Queens Park Rangers.
The former Arsenal and Millwall academy starlet has racked up 4 goals and 3 assists in the Championship this term for a QPR side that has struggled to maintain a positive rhythm during a frustratingly disappointing league campaign.
Eze’s close control and intelligent use of possession at number 10 for the Hoops haven’t gone unnoticed and both Tottenham Hotspur and Crystal Palace are already thought to be vying for his signature.
The 20-year old Nigerian will be hoping to impress his suitors against Watford at Loftus Road on Saturday in a compelling looking London FA Cup derby, and Eze has all the tools he needs to take centre stage again.
Jayden Bogle – Derby County
Derby County have a large sprinkling of youthful stardust in their ranks this season, with Harry Wilson, Mason Mount Fikayo Tomori all making waves with some sparkling Championship performances.
18-year old Jayden Boyle has been impressing just as much as the aforementioned trio, however, unlike the three Premier League loanees, Boyle is a permanent Ram.
Reading-born defender Jayden Bogle started out in Swindon Town’s academy before joining the youth ranks at Derby County in 2016.
With a set of skills that are perfectly aligned with those needed to be a top modern full-back, Bogle immediately caught the eye of new Rams boss Frank Lampard last summer, and the youngster was given his debut by his new manager in August last year.
Bogle has been a first-team regular since, starting 25 of Derby’s 31 Championship matches in 2018/19. Already, Premier League clubs Burnley and Wolves have been touted as possible destinations for Bogle, and the highly-rated right back has another chance to showcase his ability at Brighton on Saturday.
Regan Poole – Newport County
20-year old Regan Poole is a central defender cut from old fashioned clothe. The Welsh U21 international relishes football’s physical exchanges, though Poole is far from uncomfortable on the ball.
Poole is currently on loan at Newport County from his parent club Manchester United, though he started his career with the South Wales club before moving north in 2015.
The centre half played a key role in helping League Two’s Newport County to secure a shock 2-0 replay win against Middlesbrough in the last round of the FA Cup – a result that set the minnows up for a huge 5th round date with Manchester City.
Poole is almost certain to be one of the busiest players on the pitch inside the 8000 capacity Rodney Parade this weekend, though it’s a challenge he will be more than willing to meet head on.
Lloyd Kelly – Bristol City
Having won an incredible 9 games in a row, Bristol City are the talk of the Championship right now. The Robins battled their way to 2 FA Cup victories against Huddersfield Town and Bolton Wanderers inside that hugely positive sequence, helping City to prolong an unbeaten run that stretches all the way back to November.
Even though his form has dipped a little of late, 20-year old Lloyd Kelly has been catching the eye at left-back for the effervescent Robins.
Only 4 City players have started more often in the Championship than Kelly, who has been selected in to start 23 times in total so far this season. Kelly does have fierce competition for his spot however in the form of on-loan Chelsea prospect Jay Dasilva, though both players are tipped for the top.
Liverpool were rumoured to be weighing up a January move for Kelly, though they are unlikely to be the defender’s only admirers when the transfer window opens in the summer.
Kelly will hope to start ahead of Dasilva on Sunday when Bristol City host Wolves at Ashton Gate in an FA Cup 5th Round tie that has the look of a possible upset.
Herbie Kane – Doncaster
Another youngster drafted in on a temporary deal from a Premier League club, Herbie Kane has been pulling up trees for Doncaster this season on loan from title-chasing Liverpool. A former England U17 international, Kane started his career with Bristol City before moving to Liverpool as a 15-year old in 2013.
Kane, who is no relation to Harry, likes to make his presence felt in all midfield departments for Rovers. The 20-year old has scored 4 times for Doony in the league this season, though he has collected twice that number of yellow cards (8) for his sometimes “overenthusiastic” challenges. The skillful midfielder has been sensational for Doncaster in the FA Cup this season, rattling home 3 goals in 5 games.
Kane will be keen to make a similar impact against Crystal Palace at the Keepmoat Stadium on Sunday, to show his parent club that he is ready to make his mark at a higher level next season.
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