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5 Most Underrated Premier League Players This Season

Ian RodgersWorld Football Staff WriterJanuary 22, 2013

5 Most Underrated Premier League Players This Season

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    The Premier League boasts some of the biggest names in world football at some of the biggest clubs across the globe.

    Robin van Persie, Wayne Rooney, Gareth Bale, Carlos Tevez and Theo Walcott are all among the most talked about footballers on the planet.

    But for every van Persie and Rooney, there are several more great players plying their trade in the English top flight who do not get the same attention.

    Here we look at five of the best underrated Premier League players so far this season.

Michael Carrick, Manchester United

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    Michael Carrick may still be a "Marmite" figure for some Manchester United supporters, but his form this season will have convinced the majority of his worth to the team.

    The 31-year-old joined United from Tottenham in July 2006, and despite his impressive form with Spurs and West Ham United, he found himself in the shadow of Owen Hargreaves and Anderson the following year.

    His pace, confidence, passing and focus were all questioned during his formative years at Old Trafford, but Carrick has long since emerged into his own limelight, although injuries had played a significant part in his lack of progress.

    Carrick is taking the Premier League by storm this season, even if it is in a relatively stealth mode.

    His tackling is measured along with his passing, and he has found his feet in the first team with United legend Paul Scholes heading to retirement.

    Even at international level, Carrick has found himself on the fringes of England selection behind Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard and Gareth Barry, but his performances this season deserve the recognition of Roy Hodgson as he looks to seal qualification for the 2014 World Cup.

    He has won just 26 caps since making his debut in a friendly against Mexico in 2001.

Leon Osman, Everton

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    The rest of the country is waking up to what Everton supporters have known for years, Leon Osman is one of the most consistent midfielders in England.

    Osman made his England debut in November at the age of 31 in the friendly defeat to Sweden and did more than enough to suggest a second cap will not be too far away.

    Age and time may be against him for a long-term career but his consistent levels of form with Everton should convince Roy Hodgson that the midfielder can be a part of the 2014 World Cup qualifying campaign.

    Osman made his full Everton debut in May 2004 and scored within three minutes against Wolves. His contribution to David Moyes' team since then has been immense.

Ryan Shawcross, Stoke City

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    Stoke City captain Ryan Shawcross was linked with a move to both Manchester United and Manchester City according to the Daily Mail, underlining his worth as a leading central defender in the Premier League.

    The 25-year-old began his career at Old Trafford and, after a loan spell with Stoke, he signed permanently for Tony Pulis' then-Championship team in January 2008 and helped them gain promotion to the top flight.

    Shawcross made headlines when Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger berated him for a challenge on Aaron Ramsey in 2010, reported by the Daily Mail.

    Wenger has since buried the hatchet with Shawcross and the Gunners boss could do worse than look at the defender in a different light for the future with his own defense criticized this season.

    Shawcross' strengths come in the form of his tackling in defense and aerial ability in attack where he is a target for Stoke set pieces.

    Shawcross signed a new deal with Stoke this month as reported by Goal.com and made his England debut in the friendly defeat to Sweden in November.

Shaun Maloney, Wigan Athletic

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    For anyone with an interest in Scottish football, the consistency of Shaun Maloney at Wigan Athletic will comes as no surprise.

    The Scotland international was an integral part of the successful Celtic squad under Martin O'Neill, but it was under Gordon Strachan during the 2005-2006 SPL season where he rose to prominence.

    Maloney won the Players' Player of the Year and Young Player of the Year awards in 2006, becoming the first footballer ever to achieve the feat after Strachan switched him to the left side of midfield from his traditional central forward role.

    The 29-year-old, who was born in Malaysia, moved to Aston Villa in 2007 under O'Neill, but made his way back to Celtic a year later and then on to Wigan in 2011.

    Maloney failed initially to break into the first team until the second half of the season where his goals against Liverpool and Manchester United helped to ensure Wigan stayed in the Premier League.

Wes Hoolahan, Norwich City

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    Norwich City midfielder Wes Hoolahan has arrived at the Premier League on a circuitous route which has taken him from Shelbourne, Livingston and Blackpool to Carrow Road.

    The Republic of Ireland international has matured greatly into one of the major reasons why the Canaries are still perched in the top flight.

    The 30-year-old has formed an impressive understanding with striker Grant Holt since joining the club in 2008.

    It remains a mystery why Hoolahan has only two international caps with his industry having such an influential effect on Norwich in recent seasons.

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