Every year, young prospects emerge and thrive in the Championship in their efforts to help their side earn promotion to the Premier League or stave off the drop to League One.
To identify which individuals could well be on their way to the top in 2023, we enlisted the help of the Twenty3 Toolbox.
We ran the rule over every Championship player aged 21 or under and picked out five of the best.
Alex Scott (Bristol City)
Despite a turbulent season for Bristol City, Alex Scott’s performances have been a bright spark, and he has subsequently attracted a host of Premier League admirers.
The 19-year-old midfielder is comfortable operating in small spaces to wriggle his way through defences and has the technical ability to provide a killer pass from deep.
Scott has already registered four assists this season, which have come from an array of different positions on the pitch, as seen using the Twenty3 shot assist map.
He also gets stuck in defensively, averaging 8.73 successful defensive actions and 8.01 ball recoveries per 90 minutes – demonstrating a willingness to embrace his defensive duties.
Whether he earns a move this January or further down the line, Scott will be one to watch in 2023.
Dennis Cirkin (Sunderland)
Next up is left-back Dennis Cirkin of Sunderland, who made the move from Tottenham to the Black Cats last summer and, so far, it has been a fruitful trek to the North East.
Going forward, the 20-year-old looks to make overlapping runs from which he can fire crosses into the box for his team-mates to attack. So far, he’s managed one assist from 19 deliveries.
Defensively, he has won 77 of his 109 duels while racking up an impressive 64 interceptions and 128 ball recoveries.
What’s more, when using the Twenty3 analyse tool, we can see Cirkin has shown the versatility and physicality to also drop back into a back three when required.
Interestingly, Spurs reportedly have a £6million buyback clause, and will likely be keeping a close eye on his progress this year.
Hayden Hackney (Middlesbrough)
One of the biggest breakthrough stars of this Championship campaign has been Hayden Hackney, who is certainly enjoying life under Michael Carrick.
Hackney plays in the centre of midfield for Boro and has impressed with his silky smooth control in possession of the ball, so far completing 15 of his 22 dribbles.
He is one of his side’s chief distributors and has shown the maturity to control the tempo, either looking to increase the pace or calm things down, so far averaging 45.74 passes per 90.
Carrick’s experience as a top-level midfielder has clearly aided the 20-year-old’s development, and the Boro faithful will be hoping he continues as they chase promotion.
João Pedro (Watford)
João Pedro will be a recognisable name given his previous Premier League showings, but the Watford forward is still only 21 years old.
His abrupt acceleration and deceleration, coupled with his close control of the ball, make him a defender’s nightmare.
He has already netted eight times this season, well overperforming his 4.46 expected goals tally.
Pedro shows no fear in front of defences as he is eager to take on his markers, averaging 7.28 dribble attempts and 6.36 attacking duels won.
Defenders should also be wary of the sting Pedro’s passing provides the Hornets, as he has so far completed 17 through-balls – the second-most in the Championship.
His latest injury setback is a massive blow for Watford’s bid for promotion, but once fit and healthy, few in the Championship can better the Brazilian.
Nathan Wood (Swansea)
After coming through the Middlesbrough ranks and, following disappointing loan moves to Crewe Alexandra and Hibernian, Nathan Wood has settled in at Swansea City.
The imposing 20-year-old centre-half has been a central cog in Russell Martin’s defence, playing 1,938 minutes this term.
Wood has plenty of ability on the ball, completing 20 of his 32 dribbles while registering the seventh-most passes of any Championship player (1,188), with 92.6% accuracy.
Defensively, his combination of strong athleticism and awareness has seen him record strong defensive numbers, including 1.67 loose balls won and 9.69 successful defensive actions per 90.
Wood’s inexperience has shown at times this season, given this is his first run of consistent minutes at the top level, but that is part of his development and few youngsters are trusted in such a crucial area of the pitch.
Swansea will be hoping he can continue to grow in 2023 and turn into the player that he has shown signs of becoming in his youth.
All graphics in this article were produced with the Twenty3 Toolbox. For more information, please get in touch below.