Swansea City forward Liam Cullen surely stands on the cusp of his first-team breakthrough at the Liberty Stadium following his destructive goalscoring form for the Under-23 side this campaign.
Cullen was named the Premier League 2 Player of the Month for the month of January after he netted 10 goals in all competitions, with this including two hat-tricks against Middlesbrough and Everton as he took his overall season tally up to 17.
The 20-year-old’s impressive form saw him earn a call-up to the senior side ahead of the trip to Preston in January, and Cullen came off the bench late on to make his league debut for the club before also featuring against Derby the following week.
Cullen has not managed to make a senior appearance since his outing against Derby back in February, but the striker has been named on the bench for the Swans’ last five Championship matches as he remains firmly in the first-team picture in SA1.
It seems increasingly likely that Cullen will become the club’s next academy product to make their mark on the senior side, with both Jordon Garrick and Ben Cabango having followed in the footsteps of Joe Rodon and Daniel James by impressing this term.
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The fact Cullen has continued to add goals to his game in addition to his pace and trickery means he can now pose a serious threat to defences, and the only reason he has not received more first-team playing time is down to Rhian Brewster’s strong form.
However, Brewster is likely to leave the Liberty Stadium and return to Liverpool when his loan deal comes to an end over the summer, and this would further open the first-team door to Cullen given the Swans’ lack of permanent striking options.
This means Steve Cooper should aim to given Cullen increased minutes towards the end of the campaign in preparation for the new term, particularly seeing as the 20-year-old would very much benefit physically from further first-team experience.
However, James’ success for Swansea prior to his high-profile move to Manchester United serves as proof how raw talent can thrive in the Championship, and there is no reason why this cannot also be the case for Cullen given his Under-23s form.