Championship side Swansea City have entered a new chapter in their history this season.
Seemingly being just one more promotion push away before finally reaching the Premier League again as the side returned to pre-season training under Steve Cooper, despite the loss of star man Andre Ayew, the departure of the Welshman in late July proved to be the catalyst.
No longer were they expected to be competing for the top six after seeing their manager leave shortly before the start of the season, the Swans’ hierarchy felt it was the time to rebuild under a manager that plays an attractive style of football.
Quiz: Have Swansea City ever won an away game at each of these 20 stadiums?
In came Russell Martin at the start of August, seeing the likes of Jamal Lowe and Connor Roberts leave the club but also managing to bring in a few gems of his own, namely Jamie Paterson and Olivier Ntcham with the former proving to be a particularly shrewd addition.
The previous window was just the start of a long-term project in South Wales under the former Norwich City defender, with one eye clearly on the bigger picture at the Swansea.com Stadium as they eventually look to return to the top flight.
As part of this building job, some of the club’s current youngsters have been monitored by Martin and could potentially be integrated into the first team in the future, something the club and manager feel passionate about according to CEO Julian Winter.
With these comments in mind, we have selected two youngsters at the second-tier side that could prove to be a hit at Swansea and/or elsewhere in the future.
Despite competing in a struggling Swansea Under-23s side at this moment in time, currently sitting at the bottom of their league table, 18-year-old winger Whittaker has scored an impressive four goals in ten games, being an assured penalty taker and stepping up to the plate as a considerable attacking threat.
The fact he is only 18 but playing for the Under-23s already just goes to show how highly he’s rated in the second-tier side’s youth system, leaving Premier League giant Tottenham Hotspur on the conclusion of his scholarship in the summer but bouncing back well with Martin’s men.
He is just one of several players who arrived at the club from a Premier League side in the summer as part of an academy recruitment drive, but could potentially steal a march on other youngsters in his quest for first-team football if he can retain his goalscoring form.
Able to play as a centre-forward as well but scoring the vast majority of his goals for former side Spurs from out wide, recording a respectable nine goals in 19 appearances in the U18 Premier League for the north London outfit during his time there, he could potentially be the perfect player to have as an additional goalscoring threat alongside attacking midfielder Paterson and in-form striker Joel Piroe.
He may have to wait patiently for his chance though as he continues his development.
The central midfielder made his first senior appearance for the club in the Carabao Cup this season.
Starting against both Reading and Plymouth Argyle, manager Martin showed a huge amount of trust in the 20-year-old to appear from the off in both games, though this may not come as a major surprise considering the midfielder is now a fully-established Wales youth international.
He scored his first goal for his country last week in a 7-0 victory over Gibraltar before starting again on Tuesday against Switzerland – and with his international credentials bolstered – looks set to have a bright career regardless of whether he remains with the Swans for the long term or not.
With speculation over Matt Grimes’ future continuing to mount with his contract running down and other options ready to step in if he departs, Williams could be shifted up one place in the midfield pecking order if the club captain was to leave, potentially providing him with more first-team opportunities in the near future.
And most importantly, there’s a reason why he’s been dubbed ‘Daniesta’ by some of his teammates. He’s definitely one youngster to keep an eye out for.