IN EVERY championship-winning side there are always a couple of players who fail to make enough appearances to qualify for a medal. Few have as much bearing on the outcome as Jon Newsome last season. Howard Wilkinson signed Newsome from Sheffield Wednesday in mid-season as defensive cover and was relieved to find that while most people in Leeds and Manchester were losing their nerve this big-boned young defender was keeping his. He scores goals as well as stops them: from a Strachan corner he headed the winner at Tottenham when defeat for Leeds looked probable. He is the right size and shape to play the impenetrable rock in the heart of the back four, but for Leeds he has only ever played at right-back. With Mel Sterland injured again, he will probably start the season there. If he can play as he did in the spring, he will probably end it there too.
BRADLEY ALLEN / QPR
FOOTBALLERS from the Allen clan do not conform to a type. Martin is all brawn, Paul all lungs; only Bradley has the same untutored blend of selfishness, poise and skill that his older brother Clive exhibited at Loftus Road in his youth. At the age Bradley Allen is now, Clive had fetched pounds 1m twice over, but in other respects the newer model is slightly quicker off the mark. 'He is quite a brainy player and is able to anticipate very well,' his manager, Gerry Francis, says. 'Like Clive he is very slight and small and needed to work on his upper body a little. As he goes on he'll get stronger. I think it must be very difficult having a famous brother and following in his footsteps.' The highlight of his career so far, apart from an England Under-21 cap, was at Upton Park last season when he outshone his cousin Martin with a pair of opportunistic goals. Goalscoring, you can be sure, is in his blood.
AIDEY MIKE / Manchester City
THEY are wary of predicting a big future for their youngsters at Maine Road. Michael Hughes was once considered the great sky-blue hope, but he was recently sold off to Strasbourg. Expectations are now concentrated on Mike Sheron, though a player who might share the burden is Aidey (short for Adrian) Mike. He scored a hatful in the reserves last season, at the end of which he was named the club's young player of the year and given a chance in the senior side. He scored in his second game. The player with whom he is most compared is Ian Wright, the First Division's top scorer last season. He is quick and strong and, like Wright, relies on opportunism and a sharp eye. While Niall Quinn will always be closely chaperoned, Mike will be able to enjoy the advantage of being an unknown quantity. But that may not be the case by the end of the season.
ALAN WRIGHT / Blackburn Rovers
ALAN WRIGHT was Kenny Dalglish's first signing when he arrived at Ewood Park last October. He arrived from Blackpool and, in the world of inflated finance that Blackburn saw as the surest path to the Premier League, cost a comparative pittance at pounds 400,000. Since then Rovers have shelled out nearly pounds 10m on other new players, but none of the bigger names have provided as much value for money as the diminutive left-back. In the jittery run-in to the end of the season which saw dead certainties for promotion turn into clueless no-hopers, Wright was one of the very few players in the side who kept his form. He is very slight for a defender, but very fast down towards the byline. Unlike a lot of full-backs, he knows how to cross when he gets there. He will not be troubled by the right-wingers in the top flight, though he should cause the right-backs a problem or two.
STEVE FROGGATT / Aston Villa
RON ATKINSON is never afraid to throw around a bob or two, but the most promising contribution to Villa's 1991- 92 season came from a teenager who didn't cost a penny. Steve Froggatt has only played a handful of first-team games but in one of them, a Cup tie at Swindon, scored one of the goals of last season. A protege of Graham Taylor, he has some of the attributes of another left-winger the England manager unearthed, at Watford. He is mature and confident, ghosting past right-backs at will. 'His main asset is his mental attitude,' Andy Gray, coach at Villa last season, says. 'He's not one of these quality players who's not prepared to work. He would have been first choice for most of the end of last season had he not got injured. He's got what you need to be a winger - pace, good skill, and he's a tremendous crosser of the ball.'
GARY BOWYER / Nottm Forest
THOSE who regard the City Ground, Nottingham, as the national centre for footballing nepotism will not be surprised to learn that as well as Clough junior and Gemmill junior, Forest also have a Bowyer junior on their books. Gary joined the club from Hereford United, whose manager was none other than Ian Bowyer. After initially failing to live up to the family name, Gary proved his worth in Forest's reserves last season. He can play at left-back but that position is hardly up for grabs at Forest so if he breaks into the first team it will be as a harrying, hard-working, ball-winning, box-to-box midfielder. He may not be a typical Forest player, and his future may lie elsewhere. Competition is stiff, but no one had heard of Scot Gemmill 12 months ago and now he is more or less undroppable, with an international career beckoning. People might one day be saying the same about Gary Bowyer.
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