Hong Kong Soccer Sevens ones to watch: Newcastle, West Ham, Brighton, Leicester, Rangers and Cagliari earmark top youngsters
Visiting clubs pick out the talented prospects they expect to shine at Sports Road this weekend
The HKFC Citi Soccer Sevens is the biggest weekend in Hong Kong football and some of the brightest talents in youth football will be at Sports Road to strut their stuff.
We asked the visiting clubs which players fans should look out for this weekend and here are their suggestions of youngsters that could soon be moving up to the first team.
Victor Fernandez – Newcastle United
The Spanish winger has just turned 20 and has already featured for Rafa Benitez’s first team in a friendly against Royal Antwerp.
Compatriot Ayoze Perez, who scored a doubled in the 3-0 win against Chelsea last weekend, has been impressed.
“Hopefully he [Fernandez] can get more time with us,” said Perez. “He’s been training a lot of times with us and he’s learning.
“He’s in that process where he needs to work hard, learn from other players, and hopefully he can bring us in the future a lot of good things.”
Nathan Holland – West Ham United
The Manchester-born left winger signed from Everton last season and has starred for the Hammers at under-23 level.
A 19-year-old described as one of West Ham’s “best and most dangerous outlets”, Holland made his first team debut in the Carabao Cup against Bolton Wanderers this season but missed out on more playing time because of a long injury lay-off.
Viktor Gyokeres – Brighton & Hove Albion
The Swedish striker joined up with the club in January, despite signing for them last September from IF Brommapojkarna after impressing at the under-19 Uefa European Championship, where he was joint-top scorer.
Gyokeres scored 10 goals in 15 appearances for the Seagulls’ under-23s as they achieved promotion to the age group’s top flight.
He’s looking forward to his first visit to Hong Kong and thinks the fans will get value for money. “I think there will be many goals in the tournament, because none of the teams will be used to playing seven-a-side, but it’s also important to keep clean sheets,” he said.
Giuseppe Ciocci – Cagliari Calcio
Clean sheets are the order of the day for the Italian stopper, who at just 16 has regularly trained with the first team.
He has been at the club since 2014 and has been likened to former Juventus and Italy goalkeeper Angelo Peruzzi.
“His personality is very mature,” the club said. “He is a winner who does not like to lose and he can cope well with the stress.”
Josh Eppiah – Leicester City
Probably the easiest pick from the clubs coming to Hong Kong.
The Belgian forward, who represents his country at under-19 level, was top scorer in the last two Sevens and player of the tournament last May when he scored eight goals including a double in the final against Aston Villa.
Liam Burt – Glasgow Rangers
The forward was on the bench when Rangers lost the Scottish Cup final to Hibernian last season and made his first-team bow at just 16. Burt spent this season on loan at Dumbarton.
Rangers academy head Craig Mulholland has high hopes for the striker, labelling him“an exciting talent who we hope will fulfil his potential over the next 12 months”.
Mulholland also pointed out that Burt’s loan spell saw him develop other attributes to his one-on-one dribbling, which will help him progress to first-team football.
Callum O’Hare – Aston Villa
Local lad Callum O’Hare has been the standout player for Villa’s under-23s this season and the marauding forward has played eight times for the first team after Steve Bruce handed him a debut last August.