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Five promoted players who would make excellent Draft Fantasy Football picks

Jake Jackman

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In fantasy football, it is always worth looking at the three promoted clubs every season for players to draft to your team. Other managers will focus on the players that have established themselves in the Premier League, but they could be missing out on a potential great pick-up.

It was Newcastle United, Brighton and Hove Albion and Huddersfield Town that are the newly-promoted teams this season. A lot will be known about Newcastle considering they are returning to the top flight after only one season, but the other two have yet to feature in the Premier League.

Here are five newly-promoted players that you should consider picking in your Draft Fantasy team this year:

Dwight Gayle – Newcastle United

The Newcastle United number nine may not have won the golden boot last season in the Championship, but he was certainly the best striker in the division. He scored 23 goals, with one coming every 93.3 minutes. During his time at Crystal Palace, he showed that he could offer a goal threat in the Premier League, but he wasn’t given the first team opportunities that many thought he deserved.

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At Selhurst Park, he scored a goal every 182.9 minutes in the Premier League. This is an impressive record considering that he was always in and out of the team. He is utilised better by Newcastle and he has the belief of his manager. It isn’t clear whether the Magpies will sign another striker to compete with him, but regardless, Gayle would be a good second striker in fantasy. Benitez rates him highly and he is full of confidence. He is ready for the Premier League and he will score goals this season.

Anthony Knockaert – Brighton and Hove Albion

Although the Frenchman didn’t impress in the top flight when he was at Leicester City, he is now a more mature player and he will definitely start the season in the team at the Amex Stadium. Last season, he was voted the Championship player of the year and rightly so. He contributed 15 goals and eight assists, which works out at a goal involvement every 164.9 minutes. The Seagulls rely on his dynamism to create chances and he receives lots of the ball on the right wing. The 25-year-old does take set pieces as well, which adds to his fantasy value.

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It is unlikely that he will score as many as he did in the Championship, but he will be determined to prove that he belongs at the highest level. As a second or third midfield pick, he could prove to be a great selection as he will be involved in a lot of the attacking play for Brighton. It would be a gamble, but one that has the potential for high rewards.

Matt Ritchie – Newcastle United

The Scottish international had a good season with Bournemouth during the 2015/16 season and showed that he could compete in the top flight. It was a surprise that he opted to drop down a division, but he is now coming back as a better player. He has developed under Rafa Benitez and he will be eager to show that he made the right decision to move to Tyneside. Last season, he scored 12 goals and got seven assists. This wasn’t as good as Knockaert, but it remains an excellent haul.

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One reason you may opt for Ritchie ahead of Knockaert is that he is going to be playing in a team that is more used to the Premier League. Newcastle have lots of top flight experience and that will help them at the beginning of the season. The winger also takes penalties and set pieces, which increases his value in the game. Benitez utilised set pieces effectively last season and it is likely that he will target them again this year.

Tommy Smith – Huddersfield Town

Huddersfield offer a risk in fantasy as they have made a lot of signings and it isn’t clear how they will line-up in August when the season kicks off. Their best fantasy option based on last season would be Tommy Smith. The right back is given the license to attack by David Wagner and he does offer a real threat when he gets forward. Last season, he contributed four goals and ten assists, which is an incredible return for a full back. To put that into context, he created more goals than either Knockaert or Ritchie.

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The style that Huddersfield play means that they aren’t likely to keep consistent clean sheets, especially given the step up in quality. They conceded 18 more than the other two promoted teams last season, but Smith is worth drafting for his attacking upside alone. He is unlikely to be picked up early on and could be a great defensive pick late in the draft.

Lewis Dunk – Brighton and Hove Albion

Brighton are dangerous from set pieces and that is a part of the game that Chris Hughton will want to target next season, especially against the better teams in the league. If they persist with their 4-4-2 formation, they will be solid in defence, but they may struggle to create clear-cut chances. This is why set pieces are so important and Dunk is one of their main threats.

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During the last three seasons, he has scored 11 goals and Brighton will be hoping that he can contribute a few this year. Hughton will look for his side to be solid at the back and target clean sheets. As they were the joint-best defensive team in the league last season, it can be expected that they will be tough to break down and keep clean sheets. As a second or third choice defender, Dunk would be a great draft pick.

Jake is a student based in the South East. He is a Newcastle fan and has a keen interest in Dutch football. Jake can be found on Twitter here - @jakejackmann.

Brighton and Hove Albion

Rodrigo reported as Brighton target, but he is surely too expensive?

The Valencia striker is reportedly wanted by a trio of Premier League clubs.

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Brighton, along with Tottenham Hotspur and Everton have been linked with a move for Valencia forward Rodrigo this summer.

Calciomercato claims that all three clubs are interested in signing the Spanish international come the summer. The report discloses his massive €120 million (£105.4 million) release clause, but that offers in the region of €40 million (£35 million) are expected.

Which is surely when the links to Brighton have to stop.

Rodrigo, who had a spell at Bolton Wanderers as a young player on loan from Benfica, would be a tremendous signing for Brighton.

(Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images)

The 22-year-old has scored 16 goals in 35 games for Los Che this season. Such form could see him earn a place in Spain’s squad for this summer’s World Cup in Russia.

Brighton, however, simply cannot afford such a massive sum of money on one player, especially considering the club recently broke their record to sign Dutch striker Jurgen Locadia.

According to the Guardian, that fee was around £14 million. Paying more than double that on Rodrigo is simply inconceivable.

(Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

It would immediately undermine the money they spent on Locadia, who arrived from PSV Eindhoven and leave very little in the kitty to improve other areas of the team this summer.

Rodrigo would undoubtedly be a dream signing for Brighton. The Seagulls look increasingly safe in the Premier League and bringing in a top name this summer would be a popular move among fans at the Amex Arena.

But simply put, £35 million is just not a figure Brighton can or should pay for just one player. Instead, such money should be spread out throughout the team evenly. Distributing the funds in this way will allow Brighton to fully strengthen their side and maintain the balance that has taken them to a brilliant first Premier League campaign.

There might come a day when Brighton can afford to splurge £35 million on just one player. That day, however, will not be in 2018.

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Is Brighton’s Christian Walton a future England star?

The 22-year-old stopper has been in fine form at Wigan Athletic.

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Wigan Athletic’s FA Cup run has come to an end. The Latics lost 2-0 against Southampton at the DW Stadium, despite being the better team in the first-half. However, Southampton came alive in the second period and goals from Pierre Hojbjerg and Cedric Soares settled the tie.

It could have been more, were it not for a brilliant penalty save from Wigan goalkeeper Christian Walton. He dived to his left and got a strong palm to a driven effort from 12 yards by Manolo Gabbiadini. Unbelievably, Walton managed to get enough on the ball to turn it around the post and keep Wigan in the tie.

It was a brilliant save in what was another excellent performance from the young stopper. So do Brighton and Hove Albion have a future star on their hands?

Walton is on loan at Wigan from Brighton until the end of the season. It is the fifth loan spell of Walton’s career after similar spells at Bury, Plymouth Argyle, Luton Town and Southend United.

The 22-year-old’s brilliant performance v Southampton was no anomaly. He was in fine form in Wigan’s recent famous win against Manchester City.

Brighton clearly know they have a top talent on their hands, yet Chris Hughton has not yet pulled the trigger on the player.

In the summer, when Brighton lost number one David Stockdale to Birmingham City, Hughton signed two new keepers. Australian international Mat Ryan arrived from Valencia whilst Tim Krul was a free transfer from Newcastle United.

(Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)

But Brighton did secure Walton to a new deal, keeping him at the Amex Arena until 2021. With Krul’s deal ending at the end of the season, perhaps Walton will be in line to be the Seagulls second-choice keeper from next season.

England currently have something of a concern regarding the goalkeeper position but the future is bright. Sam Johnstone, Freddie Woodman and Angus Gunn look like top talents and Walton must be included in the same company.

Not only an excellent shot-stopper, but Walton is confident coming off his line and good with the ball at his feet.

The competition is certainly fierce, with the likes of Jack Butland, Jordan Pickford and Nick Pope also potential future England goalkeepers.

But Walton might just be in with a shout of such accolades in the future as well if he can find his way at Brighton.

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Brighton and Hove Albion

Manager of the Month: Can Chris Hughton now play out a dream season with Brighton?

The Brighton boss was recently crowned February Manager of the Month.

Jake Jackman

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Chris Hughton
Photo: Getty Images

Chris Hughton has not received a huge amount of exposure for the job that he is doing with Brighton, but back-to-back Premier League wins have seen the Seagulls rise to 10th position in the table and he has subsequently been rewarded with the February Manager of the Month award.

As a newly-promoted team, they will have targeted survival. Although it remains tight at the bottom, it would take a considerable drop-off for the South Coast team to suffer relegation, especially following an unbeaten run throughout the last month.

But Hughton won’t be getting too far ahead of himself. After all, his team squandered a seven-point lead with three games to go in the Championship last season.

That said, he has done a tremendous job at the Amex Stadium and gone a long way to proving those that doubted him wrong. Hughton is seen as one of the nicest men in football and a safe pair of hands, but he hasn’t always convinced as a Premier League manager.

His first spell in charge of a top-flight club was at Newcastle United. Hughton led them back to the Premier League at the first attempt and the team were in 11th position when he was dismissed. It was considered harsh at the time and even Magpies owner Mike Ashley has admitted since that it was a mistake in an interview with Sky Sports:

“I thought I was very unfair to Chris Hughton, who got us promoted, I don’t think I gave him enough time.”

Hughton was well liked by both the players and supporters at Newcastle. He pulled the club together after the disaster of relegation and managed to win the Championship with ease. Considering it was his first job in management, he was thrown straight into a difficult job and coped well with it. The sacking has unfairly put a black mark on his record and he has been trying to erase it ever since.

The next Premier League he was given was at Norwich City and he fared okay with the Canaries. During his first season, he led them to 11th position. Considering their relative stature in the game, that is a great achievement. However, the style of play was bland and supporters were quick to turn on him in the following season.

The club sacked him with five matches to go in the 2013/14 campaign with the club lying five points above the relegation zone. It was a strange decision, especially as Neil Adams was chosen to take over with no experience of top-flight management. Norwich were relegated that season. They may have faced the same fate had they kept faith in Hughton, but they would have had a better chance of survival.

How he has enhanced his reputation at Brighton

Despite doing a decent job with Norwich before dismissal, Hughton had to drop a division to take his next job and it was with Brighton and Hove Albion. The Seagulls were in 21st position at the time after the poor tenure of Sami Hyypia, but the potential was obvious.

The facilities were great and the new stadium was built with Premier League football as the target. The club had challenged at the top for a number of years previous and had become regulars in the play-offs, but they couldn’t get over the line.

Hughton had won promotion with Newcastle and came close with Birmingham. It was a perfect match as he needed to repair his reputation out of the spotlight. It wasn’t instant success as he fought relegation for the rest of the season and stayed up by only six points. However, he did enough to win favour with the board and he hasn’t looked back since.

During his second season, the club challenged for promotion and missed out only on goal difference by two goals. It was heartbreak on the final day as they needed a win against rivals Middlesbrough, but came up short. They couldn’t get themselves back up for the play-offs and were knocked out by Sheffield Wednesday.

It seemed like both Hughton and Brighton had missed their opportunity of promotion, but they regrouped and earned it the following season in convincing fashion. They may have collapsed late to lose out on the title, but they had won promotion by April and it was never really in doubt.

That was an excellent achievement, but there remained doubts about Hughton’s ability to establish Brighton in the Premier League.

The summer saw him make shrewd additions with Pascal Gross, Mathew Ryan, Davy Propper, Ezequiel Schelotto and Jose Izquierdo coming in to strengthen the first-team. It took some of them time to settle, but they are all now starters. As a newly-promoted club, it is important to add quality to the squad if you are to survive.

Despite being a newly-promoted club, Brighton haven’t really been in much danger of relegation this season. They haven’t been in the relegation zone since the second week of the season. The bottom-half of the table has been tight, but the Seagulls have always had a buffer to the relegation zone. They have taken points from 18 of their 19 matches and their recent match display against Arsenal was the highlight of their season to date.

In the first-half, they attacked with vigour and caused Arsenal a lot of problems. They went 2-0 up and could have scored more on another day.

Although the Gunners got a goal back, the result never looked in serious danger and the home side managed the game well. It was a performance fitting of a Premier League team and the aim now will be to establish themselves at this level over the course of several years.

It is a challenge that Hughton will be relishing. In a period of few British coaches at the highest level, the Brighton manager is proving that he is one of the best and he could start to be linked with bigger jobs if he continues to impress.

The Seagulls remain in the FA Cup and have reached the quarter-final stage for the first time since 1986. Hughton is establishing himself as one of the best managers in the club’s history and although they face a difficult match against Manchester United to reach Wembley, they have the ability to get to the next round.

There is a long way to go in this season, but Brighton could feasibly finish in the top half of the Premier League and win the FA Cup. That would be a season beyond the wildest dreams of many supporters. It remains a long shot, but to be in with a chance is a great achievement by Hughton.

If his side can finish the season strongly, he has to be in contention to win Manager of the Year award.

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