League One players, and the division itself, can be written off as a substandard quality unless your club happens to play in there. Teams promoted to the Championship are often happy to leave the third tier behind and anything below the second tier is deemed to be within the depths of nothingness.
It’s a disservice to the level of some players who ply their trade every season in the third tier. There may be some players who are nearing the end of their career or have tailed off but there are certainly some diamonds in the rough in League One.
Recent seasons have proven that some of these talented players can most definitely jump up a level and hit the ground running – take Ivan Toney as the most prominent recent example.
Here then, are five more players who deserve a crack at the Championship sooner rather than later, whether that is with their current team or a new one.
League One Players to Play in the Championship
Jorge Grant – Lincoln City
The first of our League One players that deserve a crack at the Championship is Jorge Grant. Some would argue Grant has already had the chance to test himself in the second tier thanks to his early-career stint at Nottingham Forest. The player though was only a youngster at the time and was still cutting his teeth in the game. He had much to learn and made only six league starts for Forest.
He’s since worked his way up through the various leagues and earned his chance to have a second, longer attempt at the Championship.
Starting on loan at Notts County for two seasons, he then had spells at Luton Town and Mansfield Town before joining Lincoln City permanently in 2019.
The midfielder impressed from early on in his more regular playing career. At County, he made an instant impact in League Two with nine goal contributions in just 17 games. That then became 45 appearances and 21 goal contributions as the club landed a fifth-place finish in the league.
A step up in competition to League One led to less frequent contributions in front of goal for Luton Town but he was still a regular starter and helped as his side clinched the third tier title. This prompted a move to his current club Lincoln City back in League One.
Since the permanent switch, Grant has thrived. The midfielder, who is also a winger, is a consistent force in the current Lincoln side and has been one of the most important players for the club in helping them get to where they currently are in the table.
He’s a creative force in the team and has become a consistent, high-performing creator, as well as a goalscorer. With 17 goal contributions so far this season, he has cemented himself as one of the most impressive players in League One. Having worked his way up from League Two and now to battling at the top end of League One, he certainly deserves a chance to test himself in the second tier – and it could still be with Lincoln too.
Charlie Wyke – Sunderland
This one is probably self-explanatory. Charlie Wyke has been a regular goalscorer in the lower two tiers for a good few seasons now and this year for Sunderland, the 28-year old is having his best-ever campaign in terms of goals scored.
After initially joining from Bradford City, where he was prolific as the club battled for a play-off place, he then made the switch to Sunderland. Although he didn’t produce as frequently for the Black Cats at first, he’s since bagged 22 so far this season.
Wyke is even the joint-top goalscorer in the entire league, and that warrants a chance to see if he can produce similar numbers in the Championship.
His finishing is continuing to go from strength-to-strength as he gains experience throughout the Football League pyramid. His positioning is another area of stability as he always manages to get in the right positions to produce the goods for his club.
If he can fire Sunderland to promotion, he’ll be deemed a hero at the club for finally restoring them to the Championship and there’s no doubt he deserves a chance to see if he can cut it in the second tier to boot.
Charlie Kirk – Crewe Alexandra
Charlie Kirk has spent his entire career at current club Crewe Alexandra, although he was very nearly given the chance to try his luck a league higher in January, only for no move to end up materialising.
Instead, the 23-year-old will focus on taking his current side up a league and with the way he is performing regularly, he could very well do just that.
Kirk lit up League Two during his time there with Crewe, playing in over 100 games and providing well over 40 goal contributions.
After helping them clinch promotion, he has continued to be one of the club’s most solid players. Currently sat in mid-table, it’s no surprise Kirk is garnering interest from elsewhere.
He has a playmaking ability unlike many others in the same league and although he is capable of taking players on and creating chances for himself, he is equally as adept at creating chances for his teammates.
At just 23-years-old, he has plenty of room to grow into an even better player too, and there’s no doubt we’ll see him in the Championship at some point in his career.
Joe Ward – Peterborough United
Peterborough United are flying in League One currently and will be hoping to land a promotion back into the second tier come the end of the season – and it’ll be justice for Joe Ward, who has no doubt earned his chance to have a crack at the Championship.
The 25-year-old was a part of the team that clinched the National League title with Lincoln in 2017. But while his side went on to play League Two football, he instead dropped back into the Conference with Woking.
However, some impressive showings for the side meant that he eventually got a crack at football two leagues higher in League One with Peterborough.
Since his move to the club as a 21-year-old, he has been a regular feature in the club’s first team.
He’s had his most productive season to date too with the Posh and has been a key reason as to why his club are performing so well in the third tier. Ten assists this year has him as the player with the most assists at the club and he is also third in the whole league.
He is seemingly going from strength-to-strength and if his club can indeed seal a promotion, he will be pivotal in helping them adapt to a higher tier.
Luke Jephcott – Plymouth Argyle
Making his debut for the club as an 18-year-old, it wasn’t the easiest start for the forward as he saw his club relegated into League Two.
When given more games to impress in the fourth tier though, he took the chance with both hands and ran with it. In 14 games for the side, he bagged seven goals – a rate of a goal every other game, impressive for a then 19-year-old.
It was enough to help his side get back into League One and rather than struggle to produce the same figures with the side, he has become an even better player.
More games this year for Jephcott has meant more goals – in 31 appearances for the club this campaign, he has bagged 16 goals so far.
His side may be struggling in 16th right now but the player certainly isn’t, and being so young, he too has plenty of potential to become a top goalscorer in the Football League.
Some may argue that it might be too early to get carried away with the player, but Jephcott has only produced these figures in League One this season. However, you cannot doubt his tremendous finishing ability and he seems to thrive on being given challenge after challenge. From League Two to League One, he became an even better player.
Perhaps then, it is time to push him even further and try him in the Championship – whether that is with Plymouth in a few seasons time or another club.