6 Players to Watch for from the Premier League's Promoted Sides
The new Premier League season is just around the corner, and for the three teams promoted into the division, hope is naturally springing eternal.
Leicester City, Burnley and Queens Park Rangers all impressed during their promotion campaigns last season, and they will all have genuine belief that they can beat the drop and survive this season.
Naturally though, there are several players in each side that the club will be pinning their hopes on. Whether it's inspirational defenders who have international recognition in their sights, or simply former Premier League stars with a point or two to prove, all three teams have players we should be watching out for.
So, let's take a look at six of the men to keep an eye out for from the Premier League's three new boys in 2014/15.
Ritchie De Laet (Leicester City)
When you're released by Manchester United as a 23-year-old, your career can quite easily go down a difficult path, with many players finding it tough to get back up to the Premier League.
Proving Manchester United that you were wrong to be released is an incredibly tricky task, but Ritchie De Laet seems to be making a real good go of it. Capped by Belgium as a 20-year-old (although he hasn't played since), De Laet's potential as a versatile defender was there for all to see, and he actually appeared for United on several occasions before being let go.
He dropped down to the Championship with Leicester, playing a part in their incredible rise to Premier League prominence once again. He's a key component of the Foxes' defence on a weekly basis, and is sure to be sought after if he has a strong start to the season.
He was in the Championship's official team of the season last year too, which tells you all you need to know about De Laet's talent and pedigree.
Kieran Trippier (Burnley)
A capped international at Under-18 level all the way through to Under-21 competitions, Burnley's Kieran Trippier is being seriously touted for England recognition within the next year or two.
At just 23, the former Manchester City academy man has bags of time on his side to force his way into Roy Hodgson's thinking. But if his impressive form in the Championship (where he was named in the division's team of the season two years running) continues this year, expect Trippier to be in the England squad sooner rather than later.
Trippier is a pacey, attacking full-back that can scare the life out of defences at any level, and he is sure to be a key cog of Burnley's plan to avoid the drop, and secure Premier League survival.
Reported interest from Arsenal prompted Burnley to tie him down to a deal until the end of 2017 recently, but that won't stop the big clubs looking again if Trippier continues in the vein of form he has displayed over the last two seasons.
Joey Barton (Queens Park Rangers)
Ladies and gentlemen, your favourite pantomime villain is back in the Premier League. After a brief sabbatical away with Marseille (and then in the Championship with QPR last season), Joey Barton is ready to make his mark on the top division once again.
It didn't end on a sweet note for Barton last time; that whopping 12-match ban he picked up for clashes with Carlos Tevez, Sergio Aguero and Vincent Kompany saw him widely condemned in the media. However, Barton had a great season with the R's last year, and has started brightly in pre-season this time around.
When you get promoted to the Premier League, a couple of strong, vocal leaders are exactly the types of players you need to beat the drop. Often clubs will go out and recruit those from elsewhere, but QPR have one already in their ranks in Barton. Love him or hate him, he gives Harry Redknapp's side a real steel and toughness, and he'll be massive for them in 2014/15.
Jamie Vardy (Leicester City)
We love a "rags to riches" story in England; so it would be unfair to leave Leicester City's Jamie Vardy off this list. Four years ago, he was playing for Stocksbridge Park Steels in the eighth tier of the English footballing pyramid.
Now, he's preparing to lead the line for the Foxes in their first campaign back in the Premier League. That's not a bad career path, and it probably gives hope to a whole host of footballers around the country that it can indeed be done. Vardy has been prolific at every club he's been at; whether it's FC Halifax Town or even Fleetwood, where he scored 31 in just 36 games.
A move to the Foxes quickly materialised, and he's continued to impress in the Championship. He's a traditional No. 9, and is perhaps the perfect candidate to lead the line for Leicester this season.
He scored 16 goals in the Championship last season as Nigel Pearson's side stormed to the Championship title, and the same will be expected of him again this season.
Danny Ings (Burnley)
Prior to last season, Danny Ings had scored just six Championship goals in two seasons for Burnley. With Ings expected to lead the line following Charlie Austin's departure to QPR, the pressure was well and truly on.
Therefore, a return of 21 goals in 40 Championship appearances isn't too bad, and it's little surprise that all Burnley's hopes are being pinned on the superb Ings this season.
His transformation is remarkable; Ings was hardly prolific in the early years of his career, but last season seems to have been a real turning point for his career. In fact, he was coveting attention from some top Premier League clubs after a brilliant season with the Clarets, but Burnley have kept hold of their man.
If they are to survive this season, Ings will simply have to replicate that incredible goal-scoring form of last season. The only problem with that is if he does, Burnley will have a real job on their hands keeping hold of him.
Charlie Austin (Queens Park Rangers)
When you're handed the No. 9 shirt at a club like Queens Park Rangers (who were expected to storm through the Championship last season), the pressure on your shoulders is pretty substantial.
After scoring an incredible 41 goals in his last two seasons at Burnley, QPR shelled out a hefty fee to lure Charlie Austin away from Lancashire. However, despite the obvious hype and pressure surrounding his move, he delivered big time for the R's, netting 17 times in 31 games to help to eventual promotion.
Now, the same will be expected of Austin once again. His move to the Premier League could have come about much sooner than this in truth, but he has gradually established himself as the most dangerous striker in the Football League over the last few years.
The step up into the Premier League will be tough, but Austin has bags of talent. He's a goal-scoring predator, and he will be vital to QPR's chances of staying up.