Five to watch in Sky Bet League 2 this season

Luke Chadwick in action for MK Dons against Stevenage. Photo: Harry Hubbard

Luke Chadwick in action for MK Dons against Stevenage. Photo: Harry Hubbard - Credit: Archant

A former Manchester United midfielder, a teenage sensation plus the ‘strongest player in the world’

Goalkeeper George Long. Photo: Danny Loo

Goalkeeper George Long. Photo: Danny Loo - Credit: Archant

Stevenage kick off the new Sky Bet League 2 season today with the visit of Hartlepool United to the Lamex Stadium.

Here are five players to watch out for in the division this season.

George Long – Oxford United (loan)

It is difficult to believe that George Long is still just 20 years old.

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The goalkeeper has already made 73 appearances for Sheffield United in his short career, having made his debut for the Blades in 2011.

It was thought that it would not be long before he made the step up a division or two like fellow Blade Harry Maguire did this summer when he joined Hull City.

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Long, though, has taken one step backwards for now after losing his place in the United team last season, signing on for Oxford until January.

Yet, the keeper is talented enough to ensure that the Championship is not too far out of his reach.

Jed Wallace – Portsmouth

Jed Wallace was out of contract in the summer, and it was something of a fillip for Portsmouth that he put pen to paper on a new three-year-deal.

Another 20-year-old, Wallace made 48 appearances in all competitions for Pompey last season, scoring seven times.

The midfielder has long been admired by Championship clubs, and is an England U19 international.

Luke James – Hartlepool United

This week Luke James, who is set to feature against Stevenage this afternoon, was linked with a £750,000 move to Peterborough United.

The Posh have just raised around £5.5m from the sale of Britt Assombalonga to Nottingham Forest, and apparantly see the 19-year-old as another star in the making.

James netted 16 times for Hartlepool last season and signed a new deal in the summer, with his manager Colin Cooper now challenging him to repeat the feat again this season should he remain at the club.

Luke Chadwick – Cambridge United

Luke Chadwick surprised a few people when he dropped down two divisions last season to sign on loan for the team he supports, Cambridge United.

And the midfielder, who scored three goals in 10 matches towards the end of last season, made the move from MK Dons a permanent one this summer following United’s promotion from the Conference.

Chadwick signed a one-year deal in the summer, and at 33 still has another couple of seasons left in him at this level.

Adebayo Akinfenwa - AFC Wimbledon

Apparently, Akinfenwa is, or certainly has been until this summer, the strongest player in the world on the football video game Fifa. Or so the striker said in an interview this summer.

A lot has been made of his muscular 16-stone frame, but another attribute that catches the eye is that he is surprisingly quick over the first few yards.

The former Italy striker Gianluca Vialli used to say that he wasn’t the fastest of the Juventus team over a 50-yard sprint, but he was over six yards – and as a striker, that is what matters.

It feels as though Akinfenwa has been around forever but he is only 32, and he will have a big say on the direction of AFC Wimbledon’s campaign this season.

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