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Last Updated: Monday, 8 August 2005, 11:19 GMT 12:19 UK
Ones to watch - Premiership
By Chris Bevan

The Premiership will again have an exciting array of established talent on display this season.

Players like Wayne Rooney, Thierry Henry, Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard are all familiar faces - but who are the next generation of stars?

BBC Sport takes a look at six promising young players who will be hoping to make their own mark on the game over the next few months.


Everton striker James Vaughan

Vaughan eclipsed even Rooney when he scored against Crystal Palace in April, becoming the Toffees' youngest-ever player and the Premiership's youngest first-team player and scorer.

The striker - now 17 - has spent only 26 minutes in action for the first team but has already shown he is tough enough to survive at the top level.

Quick, robust and committed to the cause, Vaughan has risen to prominence with his goalscoring exploits at youth level and for Everton's reserves.

Operating off the shoulder of the last defender in the manner of Michael Owen, his quick-thinking and eye for goal make him a threat for even the meanest defence.

NEDUM ONUOHA (Manchester City)

Manchester City defender Nedum Onuoha

One year ago, the Nigeria-born defender was celebrating A grades in his A-levels - now he is hoping to win top marks for his defending.

A powerful and pacy centre-half, the 18-year-old was also a schoolboy athletics champion, and has long been earmarked as a star in the making.

Told to improve his distribution, he was given first-team experience at right-back in the final few games of last season and looked confident and assured.

Onuoha will miss the start of the season through injury but will look to pick up where he left off as soon as he is fit.

LEIGHTON BAINES (Wigan Athletic)

Wigan left-back Leighton Baines
Baines started out at Liverpool

The 20-year-old has made incredible progress since switching from out-and-out winger to left-back three years ago.

Baines was called into the England Under-21 squad at the start of last season and did not look out of place.

He enjoys an exciting partnership with Middlesbrough wide-man Stewart Downing at international level and is ready to make an impact in the Premiership after helping Wigan win promotion.

One-footed by his own admission, Baines can still improve further and continue to prove his hometown club Liverpool wrong for releasing him as a teenager.

JAMES MORRISON (Middlesbrough)

Middlesbrough midfielder James Morrison

Another promising member of Boro's 2004 FA Youth Cup-winning team, Morrison was overshadowed by Downing's emergence during the last campaign - but he is capable of taking centre-stage himself.

A powerful box-to-box midfielder, the 19-year-old put in a series of energetic displays after breaking into the first team in October.

Tough-tackling, creative and a good finisher too, Morrison has all the attributes needed to follow Downing into the spotlight.

All he needs are the opportunities to continue the progress he has made over the last 12 months.


Fulham utility-man Zesh Rehman

The versatile 21-year-old had to wait a long time for regular first-team football before making the breakthrough at Craven Cottage.

Rehman's head did not drop while in the reserves or when he was farmed out to Brighton on loan - and the reward for his persistence came last year when he started his first Premiership match.

Fulham manager Chris Coleman has played him at full-back, in central defence and in midfield without Rehman looking uncomfortable.

The Birmingham-born utility-man's parents are both from Pakistan and he is already seen as a potential role model to encourage more Asians to follow him into the sport.

NJAZI KUQI (Birmingham City)

Birmingham striker Njazi Kuqi

The Finland international striker beat his elder brother Shefki into the Premiership when he signed from FC Lahti in January.

Tall and powerful, the 22-year-old's playing style brings to mind a young Mark Hateley - and, like the former England striker, Kuqi is not afraid to go in where it hurts.

Blues boss Steve Bruce singled him out as one for the future when he brought him to St Andrews - but he has not just been hanging around since his arrival.

After scoring regularly for the reserves last season, Kuqi has also been on target several times for the first team in pre-season.

He has already played alongside Birmingham team-mate Mikael Forssell at international level and should get his chance to do the same in club football too.


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