Capital One Cup 2013: Adnan Januzaj and the Top Young Stars in the Competition
(Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
The Capital One Cup resumed on Tuesday night with a bang, as five games contributed 23 goals in an action-packed evening of cup football.
The games continue on Wednesday with two all-Premier League encounters featuring Tottenham, Hull, Newcastle and Manchester City, with only one quarterfinal spot left to be decided in a week's time.
Traditionally, the competition has been used by many top-flight sides as an opportunity to bring through some younger talent. This season has been no different.
So, who are the top young players to watch in the remainder of this year's competition?
Adnan Januzaj (Manchester United)
Belgian midfielder Januzaj has rarely been out of the headlines since making his first senior appearances for Manchester United in pre-season, but he has found himself one of the most discussed players in England over recent weeks after a stunning full Premier League debut against Sunderland.
The talented playmaker has adapted seamlessly to life in the top flight and, against Norwich on Tuesday night, continued his recent form with an excellent display in the Capital One Cup.
His grace and intelligence when in possession has thus far seemed perfectly in tune with the likes of Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney and, while his inexperience may show on occasion, he is capable of the one piece of magic required to open up a game.
As his role within the team grows, the competition is likely to be supplementary to games in both the Premier League and Champions League. However, it is the stage upon which he will be most expected to step up and heavily influence games.
If Manchester United enjoy a long run in the tournament, expect Januzaj to feature heavily among the highlights.
Leo Chambers (West Ham United)
England youth international Leo Chambers was excellent in his side's victory over Burnley on Tuesday night, earning the praise of manager Sam Allardyce.
Pelly Ruddock was superb, as was Leo Chambers.— Josh Fynn (@JoshWHUFC) October 29, 2013
Per the Independent, the West Ham coach said:
This was their big chance. Three players, all defenders, Pelly Ruddock, Dan Potts and Leo Chambers, can feel very proud of themselves, what they've done. They were three of our back four in the last 15, 20 minutes or so.
Chambers, a towering centre-back, is the youngest of the trio at just 18 years of age and is one of the strongest performers in the Hammers Under-21 side that are currently performing so well in the Premier League's youth equivalent.
He has started all three Capital One Cup ties thus far, playing 90 minutes on each occasion, and is rapidly playing his way into Allardyce's plans for the next couple of seasons.
Rony Lopes (Manchester City)
Attacking midfielder Rony Lopes, who is free to represent either Brazil or Portugal, made his City debut in the Capital One Cup last season and returned to the side for their opening fixture in the 2013-14 competition last month.
Given that opportunities for a start in either the Premier League or Champions League will be severely limited at Eastlands, Lopes is likely to be handed a regular role in the cup to ensure his progression continues.
Five goals in three UEFA Youth League fixtures this season place him among the best in Europe for his age, while both Roberto Mancini and now Manuel Pellegrini have tried to integrate him into the club's senior setup.
A diminutive attacker with pace and wonderful technique, Lopes should have a bright future that could well begin with long run in this year's Capital One Cup.
James Ward-Prowse (Southampton)
England Under-21 international Ward-Prowse is different to the others featured in this list in that he has already been a regular first-team player for some time—not only in cup competition.
The central midfielder, regarded as one of the country's brightest prospects in his position, has appeared in every Premier League match for his side thus far this season, but appears likely to be handed a major role in Southampton's League Cup run—playing 90 minutes in his one appearance thus far.
Not many people talking about James Ward-Prowse, he`s got the makings of a class player! Very versatile!— Josh Freemantle (@effey25) October 26, 2013
While he is a competent player in the Premier League, it could be that it is on the less-pressured League Cup stage that he is able to take the next step to become a leading figure at first-team level.
Southampton have all the tools to mount a significant cup challenge this season, and if they do, they will hope that the likes of Ward-Prowse can benefit immensely from the experience.
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