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Peterborough - Players to watch

By Peter Swan
BBC Radio Cambridgeshire

Darren Ferguson
Ferguson has a squad packed full of young talent

Peterborough United are back in the second tier of English football for the first time in a decade and a half.

With money, a talented young manager, and an ever increasing fan-base, life could not be much better at London Road.

Just two summers ago Posh were preparing for yet another season of League Two football with the likes of Bournemouth and Dagenham for company.

This year Darren Ferguson's men kick-off with a trip to Derby before Sheffield Wednesday and West Brom become the first visitors to London Road of the season.

Stockport's Tommy Rowe, Toumani Diagouraga of Hereford and Birmingham defender Krystian Pearce are the major new arrivals.

Posh will be hoping at the very least to establish themselves in the Championship with chairman Darragh MacAnthony already making noises about another promotion.

But who are the players that have got Posh this far, and will be charged with taking them to the next level?

Here are BBC Radio Cambridgeshire's five to watch for the new season:

AARON MCLEAN - FORWARD
Aaron Mclean
Mclean scored 18 league goals last season

With a strike rate of better than one in two since joining Peterborough, Mclean is one of the most deadly forwards outside of the Premier League.

At 26, the former Grays man is more experienced than many of his team-mates, having started his career with Leyton Orient back in 1999.

He looked set to leave Posh last summer following interest from Wolverhampton Wanderers, but stayed at London Road to score 18 goals in 39 league appearances on the way to promotion from League One.

Despite his diminutive stature, Mclean has the greatest physical present in the current Posh attack and has led the line solo when required.

CRAIG MACKAIL-SMITH - FORWARD
Craig Mackail-Smith
Mackail-Smith has been a virtual ever-present in recent

A £125,000 signing from Dagenham in January 2007, Craig Mackail-Smith is the other half of the Posh 'Mac-Attack'.

Together Mclean and Mackail-Smith have scored over 40 goals between them in each of the past two season

Whereas Mclean is all pace and power, Mackail-Smith is more of a creative force who likes the ball at his feet.

MacAnthony has already challenged Mackail-Smith to repeat his goal-scoring exploits of last season and make it 25 in his first year of Championship football.

GEORGE BOYD - WINGER
George Boyd
Boyd is affectionately known as 'the White Pele' by Posh fans

Peterborough signed Boyd from Stevenage for a record non-league fee of £260,000 in January 2007 and have enjoyed a fine return on their investment.

Boyd has come to define Darren Ferguson's youthful Posh side with his jinking runs and outrageous goals.

Not always the most consistent of players, the 23-year-old Charlton youth product can sometimes frustrate fans with his languid style, but became a Scotland 'B' international earlier this year.

Along with Mclean and Mackail-Smith, the club's 'third musketeer' will need to play a key role if Posh are to be a success in the Championship.

GABBY ZAKUANI - DEFENDER
Gabby Zakuani
Zakuani started his career with Leyton Orient

Athletic, powerful and reliable, Gabby Zakuani plays with an intelligence and awareness way beyond his 23 years.

The former Fulham man has been a revelation since making to move from Craven Cottage - initially on loan - in September 2008.

Alongside Craig Morgan in the centre of defence, Zakuani will need to be the solid foundation on which the rest of the Posh side can rely.

He is one of just a few members of the Posh squad to have any experience of Championship football, having spent time on loan at Stoke.

JOE LEWIS - GOALKEEPER
Joe Lewis
Lewis has collected five England Under-21 caps to date

Lewis became the club's record signing when he made the move from Norwich in January 2008 for a fee which could eventually rise to over £500,000.

Having replaced club legend Mark Tyler between the sticks, Lewis divides the Posh support like no other player in the current squad.

The 21-year-old made a few key errors last season, costing valuable points, but equally has the ability to make unbelievable saves.

He travelled to the 2009 European Championships with the England-Under 21s, but made just one substitute appearance.



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