Departures may be inevitable at Peterborough United this summer following confirmation of their relegation back to League One last weekend.
Although they have fought bravely in recent weeks, securing victories over Blackburn Rovers and Barnsley, they weren’t able to overcome automatic promotion contender Nottingham Forest last weekend with Sam Surridge’s 45th-minute strike the difference between the two sides.
They had the chance to fight on for another day with Reading suffering a 3-0 defeat at Hull City – but Grant McCann’s men were unable to overturn their deficit against the Reds after the interval and were made to pay the price with that.
Quiz: Which club did Peterborough United sign these 24 players from in the 1990s?
With nothing to play for now, the relegated side may look to experiment with some of their younger players in the coming weeks with some potentially needing to step up to the plate to provide the squad depth required to cover for departures.
Departures are likely to come following their drop to the third tier – and another youngster in Ronnie Edwards is one name who could be heading for the exit door amid interest from clubs around Europe.
With this, we are looking at two young players who could step up to the plate more next term, with the potential drop down to the third tier boosting their first-team chances.
Right-back Mensah could potentially play a bigger role at the Weston Homes Stadium next term with Norwich City loanee Bali Mumba set to head back to Carrow Road.
He’s unlikely to return to his current loan club too considering he hasn’t managed to get on the pitch as much as he probably would have liked, so that leaves McCann with a void to fill on the right-hand side.
With other areas to address in the transfer market this summer, Mensah may be asked to take the step up to the third tier to prove he’s ready to move to a side like Tottenham Hotspur, who bid for his services back in January.
Able to play in a more advanced role as well as a defensive full-back, he could thrive in McCann’s wing-back system if given the chance to shine and if they do include him in the first team, that could maximise his value before they sell him on.
The prospect of senior minutes may also persuade the Italian-born defender to extend his stay at the club, so his breakthrough could come during the 2022/23 campaign.
Another loanee departing in the summer in Steven Benda could open up a first-team spot for Will Blackmore, who has been on the bench multiple times this term and with that, could be deemed ready to play third-tier football.
David Cornell’s contract at the club may not expire until 2023 and this could keep Blackmore out of the starting 11, with the Welshman having considerable experience in the EFL before his move to the Weston Homes Stadium.
However, it’s not an impossible task for the 20-year-old to get past Cornell and this is why he should be looking to impress in pre-season with a starting spot in reach.
At 20, he needs as much first-team football as possible if he wants to make the grade under McCann, so it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him start the season between the sticks or potentially come in if an injury happens.
One thing the young goalkeeper needs to look out for is the potential return of Christy Pym following the expiration of his loan spell at Stevenage. He fell out with previous manager Darren Ferguson but could potentially be brought back into the fold by the latter’s successor if he thinks the shot-stopper is ready to take the step back up.