Premier League football is set to return next week as the UK slowly gets back into the swing of things following the hard-hitting impact of the coronavirus pandemic. Players will be hoping to make their mark with plenty still to be decided at both ends of the table.
Coaches face a tough task managing the fitness of aces who won’t have tasted a minute of competitive action since way back in March.
Rules have been relaxed, though, meaning teams will have nine players on their respective benches and up to five substitutions will be permitted.
With more opportunities to impress, the door has been opened for a host of breakout stars to emerge as managers rotate and tweak their teams.
Express Sport experts are on hand to pick out the players who are primed to shine when the Premier League restarts, but who’s your pick?
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Eddie Nketiah – Matthew Dunn
The striker began to push through just before the lockdown, keeping Alexandre Lacazette out of the side for the last three Premier League games.
With Arsenal intent on a return to the Champions League, Mikel Arteta needs the wins to turn draws into wins and with a hat-trick in the recent friendly against Charlton, the 21-year-old shows he has potential to supply those by the bucketload.
Phil Foden – Jim Holden
Phil Foden has the perfect stage to display his talent if Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola finally uses this opportunity to give the young England player a chance to start fulfilling his potential.
With no crowd to say fond farewell to David Silva, and no chance of City winning the Premier League or finishing outside the top four, why not give Foden a run of matches ahead of next season, a campaign that will be crucial for his development.
Eddie Nketiah is set to get chances when the Premier League restarts
Phil Foden will be eager to shine when the Premier League restarts
Mason Greenwood – Konstantinos Lianos
It’s all hands on deck for Manchester United as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men will put together a final big push for a top-four finish in the Premier League table.
United are fifth with only three points separating them from fourth-placed Chelsea and we can all expect Solskjaer throwing everything and everyone at his disposal to fire his team into the Champions League next season.
Marcus Rashford will be coming back to action but there will be immense focus in attacking football and that could lead to youngster Mason Greenwood getting various opportunities, especially now that Premier League clubs will be allowed to make up to five substitutions.
Solskjaer rates Greenwood very highly so it makes sense to expect the 18-year-old to get plenty of opportunities and carry a lot of confidence to his game.
Therefore, no one should rule out a few goals from the young forward, who already counts five in the Premier League and has left tremendous promise for the future.
Harvey Elliott – James Benson
Liverpool are set to return to their perch as champions of England in a matter of weeks and Jurgen Klopp will never have a better chance to blood his youngsters.
Once the Premier League title is wrapped up, the German will likely afford Harvey Elliott plenty of game time.
The young midfield schemer has made just one substitute appearance in the top flight but should have a few starts under his belt by the season’s end.
He’s stepped up against senior opposition in the cup competitions and, with the likes of Aston Villa, Brighton, Burnley and Newcastle to play, he’ll be determined to show what he’s got in his locker.
Ainsley Maitland-Niles – Alex Harris
The 22-year-old has been used in a number of positions without really nailing down a regular role in the team.
He previously spoke about wanting to play in midfield so the opportunity for extra substitutions could see Mikel Arteta hand Maitland-Niles his chance.
Arsenal’s engine room has been sub-par for the most of the campaign so the restart offers Arteta the perfect opportunity to see whether he has a solution in his squad.
Phil Foden – Bruce Archer
The Manchester City youngster has made just three Premier League starts this season but Pep Guardiola will be given the perfect opportunity to blood him in when the season restarts.
He’s already been dubbed the heir to David Silva, when he leaves at the end of the season, so when Liverpool wrap up the title Foden should be given more chances to shine.
One of his few starts did come at the Emirates against Arsenal in the 3-0 win in December when he combined brilliantly with Kevin de Bruyne.
And City go up against the Gunners in their first match since the restart on Wednesday – the perfect stage for Foden to sparkle again.
His talent – his touch in tight spaces, his movement and eye for a pass – is not in doubt. The question remains if he can do it at City and have a regular impact on the team.
With 10 games to go, a potential Champions League ban that could push some of City’s big names towards the exit, Foden has the chance to become a central figure at the club over the next few years.
And he needs to take it.