Craig continues our Scottish Premiership coverage by profiling ten players ready to make an impact on the Premiership. If you’ve got your own recommendations, pop them in the comments.
I know many of you will think that the SPL is the equivalent of a pub league, but in fact the league is flourishing again thanks to all the teams being skint and having to bring young Scottish players through their youth systems to the first team. A sort of Bizarro World version of England’s top flight. Some of these players are now ready for a crack at the Premiership and these are the ones with most chance of making down south.
Steven Naismith (Kilmarnock) â€“ The 19 year-old was the SPL Young Player of the Year last season and had a trial with Arsenal in August. Usually played as a left-winger by Kilmarnock but can also play on the right or in attack. Has been compared to Damien Duff and Ryan Giggs for the way in which he leaves defenders in his wake.
Linked with: Arsenal, Fulham, Tottenham
Alan Gow (Falkirk) â€“ 24 year-old deep lying centre-forward who has found his feet at Falkirk since moving from Airdrie United. Formed a prolific partnership with Anthony Stokes and while Stokes took the credit with 14 goals, it was Gow and 38 year-old talismanic playmaker Russell Latapy who created the majority of them. Gow is a very intelligent player and plays
even deeper than your usual deep lying forward. Falkirk want just Â£500k because heâ€™s out of contract in the summer.
Linked with: Blackburn, Aston Villa
Craig Gordon (Hearts) â€“ One of the best young goalkeepers in Europe, and possibly the best in Britain. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XHuEWaKJz7AHas been one of the main reasons for Scotland holding top spot in our Euro 2008 qualifying group. Most in Scotland think he will join Arsenal in the summer, and Arsene Wenger has done little to dispel the rumours.
Linked with: Arsenal, Manchester United, Chelsea, Fulham
Scott Brown and Kevin Thomson (Hibs) â€“ If your team is looking for classy Hibs midfielders then theyâ€™ll need to buy in bulk. Brown and Thomson are best friends and have come through the Hibs ranks together and any teams bidding have tried to sign the pair. Thomson (22) was captain but he was stripped of the captaincy after he and Brown (21) put in transfer requests, which were rejected. Brown is possibly the better of the two, but has a temperamental and arrogant streak to him. Both would be a steal at around Â£4.5 million.
Linked with: Charlton, Fulham, Bolton
Shaun Maloney (Celtic) â€“ Injury-prone forward who finally fulfilled some of his potential last year in winning the SPL Player of the Year award in a Celtic title-winning team. However he again picked up an injury at the start of the season and has struggled to get back in to the team, not helped by refusing to sign a new contract. His deal expires in the summer and his former boss Martin Oâ€™Neill is sniffing around.
Linked with: Aston Villa, Newcastle, Fulham
Charlie Adam (Rangers) â€“ 20 year-old midfielder who has been the one positive to be taken from Rangersâ€™ season so far. A powerful player with a wicked left-footed shot who hasnâ€™t been linked with a move yet but could certainly cut it in the top half of the Premiership.
Mark Wilson (Celtic) â€“ Young full-back who prefers to play on the right but can also play left-back. A very solid defender and good going forward could again easily play in the top half of the Premiership. Could be an option for Rafael Benitez if high-profile moves for Daniel Alves and Lucas Neill fail.
Steven Whittaker (Hibs) â€“ Right-back who can also play in midfield. Vastly under-rated and could be a great find for a team in the lower reaches of the Premiership. Could be a solution to West Hamâ€™s right-back problems if they canâ€™t get Lauren.
Kris Boyd â€“ An absolute goal machine. Another product of the Kilmarnock youth system who is the all-time 2nd top scorer in the SPL at the age of 23. Finished top scorer for Rangers and Kilmarnock last season after moving in January. Has been criticised for a lack of work-rate and for disappearing in the big games (heâ€™s never scored against Celtic) however he jointly holds the Scottish Premier/SPL record for the most goals in a game (5 for Kilmarnock v Dundee Utd). A good buy for a team who desperately need goals.