Championship and League One high-flyers Brentford and Hull City are both eyeing up prolific Accrington Stanley forward Dion Charles, according to The Sun.
The 25-year-old has come into his own in the 2020/21 season for Stanley, with his current goal tally standing at 17 in all competitions from 37 appearances.
It’s a big jump up from his nine goals scored last season for the Lancashire club but he is now being deployed as a central striker by John Coleman after arriving from non-league Southport in 2019 as a winger, and that positional switch seems to have done the trick.
Charles was on the books of Blackpool as a youngster but he made his name initially at AFC Fylde, scoring 18 times in 52 appearances in non-league before earning himself a move to League One side Fleetwood Town in 2016, but he failed to break into their first team in two years.
The forward had to drop back into non-league with Southport in 2018, but it’s seemingly the best thing that could have happened as Coleman – who has a habit of getting the best out of young lower league gems – brought him into the fold at Stanley and he’s flourished.
Quiz: Have each of these 24 ex-Brentford players retired or not?
Charles’ form hasn’t gone unnoticed – he’s set for a first call-up to the senior Northern Ireland set-up this week, per the Belfast Telegraph – and it’s led to speculation that the Bees are looking into a summer move for him.
Brentford themselves know a lower league talent when they see one, with the likes of Ollie Watkins passing through the club on the way to the Premier League, but interest has also come from Accy’s League One rivals Hull.
The Tigers know all about Charles’ goalscoring abilities as he scored against them on January 26, but he may be out of their price-range even if they do win promotion to the Championship.
Accy have the option to extend Charles’ contract to the end of next season, which may commence a bidding war in the summer for his services.
League One is the highest level that Charles has played at in his career, so it would be a risk for a Championship club to bring him in.
But the Ivan Toney factor of moving up a level and being prolific will make clubs want to eye up the best League One strikers, even though Charles and Toney are completely different players.
With a Northern Ireland call-up looming, Charles will have an even bigger stage to impress if Ian Baraclough gives him game-time against Italy, the USA or Bulgaria, and that may see even more clubs circle.
Whatever Charles does between now and the end of the season though – expect a battle for the 25-year-old’s signature this summer.