Former National League Players To Watch In The EFL – Opinion

Five players who have taken the step up from the National League to the EFL who you need to watch.

1 – Ruben Rodrigues

Ruben Rodrigues, formerly Notts County, has joined League One outfit Oxford United during the summer, upsetting the Notts fans who were hopeful on his contract renewal.

The portuguese forward contributed massively in the three seasons he was at Meadow Lane, forming great partnerships with players past and present such as Cal Roberts, Scunthorpe United,  Kyle Wootton, Stockport County, and Macaulay Langstaff, Notts County.

Most recently his play-off final heroics consisted of an equaliser which saw Notts through to penalties against Non-league giants Chesterfield and then scoring in that shootout was his goodbye to the Notts County faithful as he helped send them back to the EFL.

The tricky forward has been known for his skills and impressive ball retention especially in tight situations, with his vision and ability to play a through ball being demonstrated during Oxford’s pre-season already.

The forward was deserved of a step up in divisions and will flourish under the modern approach being taken by Liam Manning and his staff at Oxford United.

They play Cambridge away at 15:00 pm.


2 – Andrew Dallas

The former Solihull Moors striker has taken the step to League One after being signed by Barnsley this summer which has massively disappointed Chesterfield fans who were sure of a re-sign after Dallas spent time on loan last season with the Spireites.

The young striker has been at the centre of transfer speculation this summer and has been linked with almost every club in the EFL before choosing to lay his hat in Barnsley for the foreseeable.

He has been a constant threat in the National League over the past few season after securing a return of 50 goals in 114 games which has been enough to see his talents taken up two divisions.

Most recently he featured in the National League Play-off Final for Chesterfield, who he was on loan with at the time, and scored in the opening minutes to put Chesterfield ahead. He was a constant threat in the game and was a handful for the Notts defense before he was taken off later in the match.

The out and out striker is an incredible talent, and to pick him up on a free from Solihull Moors is a coup from the Yorkshire side. I believe he will grow well into a League One dynamic and being only 24 years of age, he has plenty of time to develop his quality and change his game to suit that of League One.

Barnsley taken on Port Vale at 15:00 pm.

3 – Aaron Nemane

Having re-signed with Notts County this summer, Aaron Nemane has remained a Notts player for a further two years after his remarkable previous National League season.

The pacey wing-back has been an instrumental part in Notts’ rise back to the EFL and was heavily linked with teams further up the pyramid like Portsmouth and Cardiff who both had an interest in the frenchman.

During the last two years at Notts he has become an essential part of the back 5 Notts operate with and has grown into his own in the RWB role which gives him the freedom to run at players and use his pace to add attacking depth and quality to the side.

He was a major contender for Man of the Match in the play-off final and was a constant attacking threat on the right hand side for The Magpies. I believe his main display of his ability came in the semi-final when he ran back in extra time to stop a certain goal which helped Notts go on and win the tie.

The full-back has an abundance of pace and his acceleration is enough to scare any defense. That quality partnered with his crossing ability provides for an excellent player for Notts County and is someone teams keep a close eye on.

Notts take on Sutton at 15:00 pm

4 – Aaron Hayden

We move on to Aaron Hayden who does have League Two experience but has no doubt come on leaps and bounds since his last stint in the EFL two years ago.

The 26 year old centre back has come back up to the EFL with Wrexham after playing a pivotal role in the back four which saw Wrexham crowned champions, despite being injured for the latter end of the season.

Hayden has remained in contract with Wrexham but i believe his aerial ability and strength will be an exciting watch within a very physical League Two. This has been demonstrated by his goal return over the past two season which has been tremendous for a defender having scored 19 goals in 65 games for the Welsh side.

Wrexham have built an incredibly strong side for League Two this season with Hayden being a part of that after improving his game under the management of Phil Parkinson. His strength, pace and eye for goal even as a centre half will be incredibly exciting and i believe he will be a player to watch.

Wrexham play MK Dons at 15:00

5 – Owen Bailey

Last but certainly not least is Owen Bailey who has signed for League Two dark horses Doncaster Rovers this season after a very good spell at Gateshead over the past two seasons seeing them promoted to the National League and stay there.

Bailey became a fan favourite amongst the Gateshead fans for his aggression and determination when wearing the shirt which has likely helped him move up the pyramid to League Two.

The defensive midfielder managed to get himself 6 goals in 32 games last season for Gateshead and was key in their survival and mid-table finish last season and the fans have voiced their upset about letting him go.

The determination, grit and quality of the player makes him an incredible acquisition at CDM who will likely flourish in a more aggressive and physical league such as League Two. I believe he will make an immediate impact and be one to watch this season.

Doncaster Rovers play Harrogate at 15:00 pm.


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