As Chelsea ride high in the Premier League with a core of young, homegrown players, the next on the list is currently ripping things up in the Championship.
Conor Gallagher arrived on loan at Charlton in the summer to relatively little fanfare, despite being part of that World Cup-winning England Under-17s team alongside Jadon Sancho, Phil Foden and Callum Hudson-Odoi, and being on the bench for the Europa League final.
Indeed, not a huge amount was even expected of him by Charlton when they signed him, but the midfielder has been a remarkable success so far, quickly establishing himself as one of the Addicks key men and one of the division’s stand-out players.
“I admit that before we signed him I didn’t know anything about him,” Charlton assistant manager Johnnie Jackson told the Totally Football League Show this week.
“Because he hadn’t previously played league football, you don’t really know what you’re going to get. But he’s been an absolute revelation: as soon as we saw him on the training pitch we knew we had a player on our hands, and then he started to play in the team and was scoring straight away. His level of performance started really well and has got better.”
Gallagher already has five goals from midfield, including a screamer against Derby a few weeks ago, and has surpassed all expectations at the Valley.
“I can’t speak highly enough of the boy,” said Jackson. “His attitude is brilliant, he just gets on with his job, his level of performance is something special. He’s as good as I’ve seen at that age for a long, long time.”
Another youngster who’s impressed in recent weeks is striker Macauley Bonne, signed from Leyton Orient in the summer and has picked up the slack after Lyle Taylor’s injury, which has kept the Charlton skipper out since the August.
“He has surprised us,” said Jackson. “I think he’s surprised himself too. When he arrived it was quite obvious that he hadn’t trained at the sort of intensity that we demand. The level he was at and the calibre of player he had around him – no disrespect to Orient but it was obvious it was quite a jump.
“That was quite evident and it took a while to make himself believe he belonged at the level. When he finally did believe that, it was the goal he scored against Leeds that went in off his back – he needed that confidence boost, and to score in a high profile game like that.
“We’d worked and worked with him but he needed that confidence and psychological boost to really feel like he belonged at this level.”
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