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Birmingham, Forest gems in 11 youngest Championship 2021/22 players

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Prospects from Birmingham City and Nottingham Forest star in a line-up of the youngest players to feature in a Championship game in the 2021/22 season.

The second-tier campaign saw hordes of teenagers given their senior breakthroughs, from talents aged just 15. Not all were given starting roles, but many enjoyed regular game time as they began forging their first-team careers.

Reading, Birmingham and Hull City feature the most often for young talents given second-tier game time per position this term. So, with that in mind, here is an XI of the youngest Championship players in the 2021/22 season…

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Harvey Cartwright (GK): Hull prospect youngest 2021/22 Championship stopper to start

Harvey Cartwright became the youngest Championship goalkeeper to start a match during the 2021/22 season in February. Matt Ingram suffering a serious injury forced coach Shota Arveladze to rely on the teenager at QPR before hosting Barnsley.

The England U20 talent was just 19 years, nine months and 10 days old when he came off the bench at QPR. He then became the youngest player to start a Championship match in goal when the Tigers hosted Barnsley with Ingram unavailable.

The games occurred three days apart, with Cartwright previously only playing in one senior fixture in the 2020/21 EFL Trophy. He would not add any further games this term after the Hull product let in three for a 1-1 draw and then 2-0 defeat.

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Fin Back (RB): Nottingham Forest talent enjoyed young start to 2021/22 Championship

Fin Back became the youngest Championship player to start a game at right-back this term when Nottingham Forest visited Stoke City on August 21. Chris Hughton had only given the defender his senior debut in the EFL Cup 10 days earlier.

Hughton was forced into handing Back his league bow a week after his Carabao Cup debut when Jordi Osei-Tutu suffered a serious hamstring injury at home to Blackburn Rovers. The injury occurred in just the 17th-minute at the City Ground.

Back showed enough against Tony Mowbray’s men to then merit starting away to Stoke in Nottingham Forest’s following game. He was just 18 years, 10 months and 27 days for the Potters affair and featured in one more second-tier game.

Jevon Mills (CB): Hull gem youngest Championship player to feature at centre-half

Jevon Mills became the youngest Championship player to feature at centre-half during the 2021/22 season on November 24. Grant McCann fielded the defender aged 18 years, one month and 28 days in stoppage-time at Cardiff City.

It would prove to be the Republic of Ireland U19 talent’s only second-tier appearance this term in one of his two matchday inclusions. Additionally, Cardiff was the Nottingham-born prospect’s senior Hull debut before joining Falkirk on loan.

Kelvin Abrefa (CB): Reading talent second youngest Championship centre-half

Kelvin Abrefa became the second-youngest Championship player to feature at centre-back on February 12. Veljko Paunovic introduced the youngster as a late substitute as Reading hosted Coventry City, despite trailing 3-2 at the time.

The Royals talent was 18 years, two months and three days old when he debuted for the first-team against Coventry. Yet Abrefa had to wait until the final two games of the season in April and May to feature again, also off the bench.

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Dylan Williams (LB): Derby prospect sealed Chelsea switch after young debut

Derby County made Dylan Williams the youngest Championship player to feature at left-back this season on September 14. Wayne Rooney awarded the defender a starting role at West Brom, aged just 18 years and one day.

Williams had made his professional league bow four days earlier as a late substitute away to Birmingham. But the teenager featured in central midfield at St Andrew’s, and he also played in two EFL Cup fixtures this season.

Rooney would give Williams further Championship games against Reading, Swansea City, Luton Town and Blackpool. Yet his rise at Pride Park saw the defender catch Chelsea’s eye, as they swooped for his services in January.

Tyrell Ashcroft (RM): Reading gem youngest Championship player on right-wing

Despite honing his trade as a centre-back, Tyrell Ashcroft never played in his natural role in the 2021/22 term. Instead, the Reading gem became the youngest Championship player to start a game at right midfield at Millwall in November.

The Royals prospect opened the action at The Den for his second-tier bow at just 17 years, three months and 26 days. But Ashcroft had to wait another month to feature again away at West Brom, again as Paunovic’s wide option.

Ashcroft would also enjoy two appearances at right-back against Derby and Luton during January. He started in both matches, but Paunovic hauled the teenager off at the break at home to the Rams and 80th-minute against Luton.

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Jordan James (CM): Birmingham gem enjoys central midfield outing at 17

Jordan James became the youngest Championship player to feature in central midfield in the 2021/22 season on November 20. Lee Bowyer introduced the Birmingham gem off the bench at Hull in a bid to come back from 2-0 down.

Bowyer had already fielded James in a second-tier match this term after a brief cameo at home to Bristol City 18 days prior. But his outing came on the right-flank, aged 17 years and four months – marginally older than Ashcroft.

James became an established presence at Birmingham following his first game in central midfield. He ended the term with 20 Championship appearances for one goal and assisted twice, while also starting in 13 matches.

Mamadi Camara (CM): Reading gem among youngest Championship players

Mamadi Camara became one of the youngest Championship players for the 2021/22 term when Reading visited Millwall on November 2. Paunovic introduced the Guinea-Bissau ace aged just 17 years, 10 months and two days old.

He featured from the bench at The Den for the first of six second-tier appearances during the season. Yet Camara never started a match, as he enjoyed all 144 minutes off the bench despite playing for 83 minutes against Fulham.

BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND – MAY 07: Blackburn Rovers’ John Buckley competing with Birmingham City’s Jobe Bellingham during the Sky Bet Championship match between Birmingham City and Blackburn Rovers at St Andrew’s Trillion Trophy Stadium on May 7, 2022 in Birmingham, England. (Photo by Andrew Kearns – CameraSport via Getty Images)

Jobe Bellingham (LM): Birmingham talent enjoys Championship debut at 16

Jobe Bellingham followed in his older brother Jude’s footsteps in January to make his bow in the Championship with Birmingham on the road to Preston North End at the age of just 16 years, three months and 23 days old.

The England U17 international had made his senior debut in an FA Cup tie with Plymouth Argyle a week prior. Yet Bellingham had to wait until the final day of the second-tier term and hosting Blackburn to feature again.

Bellingham’s outing at Preston lasted seven minutes as a replacement for Jeremie Bela on the left-wing. He would enjoy half an hour at home to Rovers on May 7, but could not help Bowyer avoid a 2-1 defeat from the right.

Zak Lovelace (ST): Millwall gem the youngest Championship player in 2021/22

Zak Lovelace became the youngest player to feature in the Championship in any position in the 2021/22 season on December 29. Millwall boss Gary Rowett gave the Lions gem a bow at 15 years, 11 months and six days at Coventry.

The teenager was a last minute substitution at the Coventry Building Society Arena. But he also enjoyed brief outings from the bench against Derby and Sheffield United in February, plus Reading and Middlesbrough in March.

Jake Daniels (ST): Blackpool boy enjoyed final day breakthrough

Jake Daniels enjoyed a final day breakthrough with Blackpool to be amongst the youngest Championship players from the 2021/22 season. Neil Critchley threw the Seasiders talent on in the 81st minute at 17 years, three months and 29 days.

Blackpool lost 5-0 at Peterborough, and were already three down before Daniels entered the action. He had never featured for the Seasiders first-team before their trip to Weston Homes Stadium on May 7.

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