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Last Updated: Monday, 1 August 2005, 10:08 GMT 11:08 UK
Ones to watch - The Championship

By Paul Fletcher

The push for the Premiership begins again on 6 August, with many of the Championship sides believing this is their chance to reach the promised land.

But with Southampton, Norwich and Crystal Palace joining the likes of of Leeds, Leicester and Wolves, it is arguably the strongest second-tier of English football in recent years.

BBC Sport profiles six young players who could have a telling impact on the division over the course of the next nine months.

LEROY LITA (Reading)

Leroy Lita in action for former club Bristol City

The 20-year-old was perhaps the most talked about player in League One last season as he smashed in 29 goals for Bristol City.

Lita stands at just 5ft 7 in but boasts blistering pace, strength that belies his size and a natural goalscorer's instinct.

The Congo-born forward started at Chelsea but really started to bloom last season under the stewardship of City manager Brian Tinnion.

Lita's form not only attracted a host of admirers - with Reading eventually signing the player for 1m - but also the attention of England Under-21 manager Peter Taylor.

The forward made his international debut for the Under-21 team against Holland towards the end of last season and marked his debut with a goal.

DAVID NUGENT (Preston North End)

Preston striker David Nugent

Nugent joined Preston from Bury in January 2005 and quickly made an impact on the Championship, scoring eight goals as North End reached the play-off final.

The 20-year-old also scored a series of spectacular individual goals that saw him soon established in the first team at Deepdale and a crowd favourite for the Preston supporters.

Slight of frame but possessing great acceleration, Nugent is at his most menacing facing goal.

Nugent also finished the season playing for the England Under-20 team in the Toulon tournament, scoring against host side France.

ANDREW DAVIES (Derby County)

Andrew Davies

With his distinctive blond hairstyle Davies, 20, is an easily recognisable figure, but it is his footballing ability that really catches the eye.

The Stockton-born defender made his debut for Middlesbrough as a 17-year-old in January 2003 and made 10 first-team appearances the following season.

But his progress was hindered when he suffered a broken leg in March 2004 playing for the reserves.

A series of assured performances while on loan at QPR last season underlined Davies' return to fitness and form.

Standing 6ft 3 in, Davies is a commanding figure in the centre of defence, good in the air and tidy with the ball at his feet - though he is by no means the finished article.

A loan move to Derby should bring with it a season of regular first-team football and help Davies mature as a footballer.

JUAN UGARTE (Crewe Alexandra)

Juan Ugarte in action for former club Wrexham

The 24-year-old striker joined Crewe at the start of July on a free transfer after rejecting a new contract offer from Wrexham.

Once of Real Sociedad, Ugarte simply proved to be too good for League One last season.

Having joined Wrexham in October 2004, Ugarte scored 22 goals in 38 times.

Ugarte could not prevent the Dragons from the drop, despite a five-goal haul in the remarkable 6-4 away win at Hartlepool and all four in the 4-2 away league win at Chesterfield.

The Spaniard was linked with Coventry, Oldham, Barnsley and Cardiff before opting for Dario Gradi's team.

GLENN WHELAN (Sheffield Wednesday)

Glenn Whelan has impressed for Sheffield Wednesday

Whelan joined Wednesday on a free transfer from Manchester City last summer and soon underlined his importance to the team.

The Republic of Ireland Under-21 skipper is a gifted, assured midfielder who should quickly make his mark at a higher level following the Owls' promotion last season.

His range of passing is impressive and he also scored some crucial goals for Wednesday last season - none more so than his 18-yard strike in the play-off final victory over Hartlepool.

The 21-year-old seems more than capable of making an impression upon the Championship.

LEWIS PRICE (Ipswich Town)

Ipswich keeper Lewis Price

Lewis Price is likely to have the chance to stake a claim for the position of Ipswich's regular keeper following Kelvin Davis' summer move to Sunderland.

Price looked impressive when he replaced Davis because of injury last season, showing good all-round skills.

Town have been linked with more experienced names but if the Wales Under-21 star makes a quick impression at the start of the campaign, the former benchman could make the place his own.

Price, who has just turned 21, also earned a call-up to Wales' senior squad in March.



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