An England Under 21 prospect and, reportedly, a target for a number of Premier League clubs, Daniel has had an exceptional season with Southend. Bentley, who missed five games with a groin injury earlier this year, set a club record of keeping eleven consecutive, home clean sheets. Having come through the Southend youth system, he is desperate to get the Shrimpers back to League One.
No-nonsense defender Steve has the distinction of winning four different promotions with three different clubs; captaining Barrow into the Conference Premier and Fleetwood into both the Conference Premier and League Two, as well as being part of the Luton side which won promotion to League Two in 2014. Steve came through the Liverpool Academy and skippered the Under 19s before his release in 2003.
Centre back Conor made his 100th league appearance for the Shrews earlier this month, and has captained the club on occasions in the absence of regular skipper Liam Lawrence. Despite Shrewsbury suffering relegation to League Two in 2014, and receiving offers from Premier League clubs, Goldson signed a new two-year contract extension and has repaid the club with a string of unerring performances.
Full back Ben’s consistent performances this season have been recognised by his fellow pros, and more than justified the club’s decision to offer him a new contract a year ago. After beginning his league career with Bury, Ben moved on to Colchester before dropping back into the non league with first club Histon. Phil Brown gave him the chance to resurrect his league career at Roots Hall, and he has taken it with both hands.
Defence, Burton Albion
Phil spent much of the early part of his career in his native North West, clocking up more than 200 league appearances for Accrington Stanley before moving to Rochdale, via Stevenage. When he joined Burton on a free transfer in the summer of 2013, then manager Gary Rowett said: “In Phil we have a player who knows what it takes to be successful at this level as well as the league above.” He was right.
Jed is one of the most prolific goalscoring midfielders in the country – he’s scored even more than age-old exponents Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard put together! The midfield playmaker, an England Under 19 international, has helped calm the storm that’s been brewing on the south coast for some time and has been Pompey’s best player of the season by far.
During his initial loan spell with Bury, Danny made such an impression that he was named Players’ Player of the Year – and he has carried on the good work this season having signed on a permanent basis. Described as a player of ‘Championship quality’, Mayor began his career with Preston and as an attacking winger ‘with a trick up his sleeve’ has become a firm favourite at Gigg Lane.
Just two years after signing his first professional contract with Exeter, Matt made his Premier League bow with Swansea having been one of League Two’s stand-out performers. A product of the Exeter academy, Matt made 58 league appearances (scoring five goals) for City before joining the Swans in January for a club record fee, said to be in the region of £1.75million.
The multi-purpose Woods takes the word ‘versatile’ to the extreme and, even though he’s only 21, he has been called on to play in a variety of positions across the Shrewsbury defence and midfield. In January 2015, Four Four Two magazine named Ryan as one of the ten best young players in the Football League, whilst manager Micky Mellon says: “He’s the first player on the training pitch and the last off. He’s a terrific kid.”
It’s not been an easy route to league stardom for Matt whose career stats making impressive reading as he has scored over 200 goals at a ratio of almost one every two games. Most of those were for hometown club Salisbury before the opportunity to make his mark on the Football League scene finally presented itself with Bournemouth. After a series of loan spells he now seems settled at Portsmouth where his talent is shining through.
Reuben has certainly been around the houses and back home again since making his league with Plymouth in 2006. Kidderminster, Torquay, Peterborough and Yeovil have been just a few of the stop-off points on an incredible journey for Reuben who has been in fantastic and consistent goalscoring form for the Pilgrims for the last two seasons; and a return to League One is on the cards.