Eight Leeds United academy players who could break through next season

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Who are the Leeds United academy players that could make the step up into the first-team ranks next season?

Carlos Corberan's under-23s side finished the season strongly with many in the Spaniard's squad being tipped for great things. Paudie O'Connor and Tom Pearce made the move into senior football under outgoing boss Paul Heckingbottom and put on strong showings.

Oliver Sarkic (R) in action for Benfica against Real Madrid.

Oliver Sarkic (R) in action for Benfica against Real Madrid.

With a focus on youth following the ease of transition from United's youngsters, we've picked out eight players, with a few honourable mentions, who could possibly break into the first-team squad at Elland Road next season...

Oriol Rey - The 20-year-old joined from La Liga giants Barcelona at the start of the 2017/18 campaign. Rey was rewarded by the club for a strong season in the Professional Development League under Carlos Corberan's guidance signing a new two-year deal in May.

The midfielder played a key role in the under-23s resurgence in the latter half of the season notching 30 appearances and scoring twice, one of which was a wonder goal against Nottingham Forest.

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Ryan Edmondson - Edmondson was handed his full first-team debut on the final day of the season against QPR at Elland Road which completed a meteoric rise since joining the club in January from York City. The striker made an immediate impact with former manager Martin Gray believing the youngster could be set for big things claiming he has the potential to be a Premier League player one day if he continues his progression.

Sam Dalby - Signed from National League outfit Leyton Orient in January. The 18-year-old striker has made a major impact scoring goals at will since making the switch from the capital. Dalby has experience in League Two under his belt as a clear natural finisher will hoping to continue his rise through the ranks.

Jack Clarke - Signed full professional terms with the Whites last November. Promoted to the under-23s side in recent months after impressing at under-18s level, the young winger was due to be involved in United's League Cup tie at Leicester City but the Whites decided against his inclusion at the King Power as he was yet to sign terms at the club. One of the most talked about talents at the club and will be hoping to impress in pre-season.

Oliver Sarkic - The striker joined the Whites on an initial loan deal from Benfica last summer but the move became permanent in January having impressed with the 23s side. Sarkic was said to be knocking on the door of the first-team before picking up an injury that ruled him out of the remainder of the campaign and will be looking to pick up where he left off this pre-season.

Bryce Hosannah - Another of those to be handed a new deal at the club. The wing-back joined following his release from Crystal Palace last summer making 24 appearances and notching two goals for the under-23s side. Frightening much of the Development League with his pace there is a no fear attitude about Hosannah's play that the Whites may well be banking on in the future.

Hugo Diaz - The defender saw his first full action in the 3-1 defeat to Preston North End in April coming on for the final 20 minutes of the match. The Spaniard joined from boyhood club Deportivo La Coruna after turning down a deal to stay at the club opting instead to further his career at Thorp Arch. Playing as central defender Diaz has featured heavily for the 23s this season and may well be called upon to continue his development in the first-team ranks next campaign.

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Pascal Struijk - The 18-year-old Belgian joined United in January from Ajax and was touted as another for the future. Amid an injury crisis under former boss Paul Heckingbottom Struijk was called up to the first-team squad for the Whites trip to Aston Villa but remained on the bench.

Honourable mentions...

Liam Kitching - Spent the second half of the campaign on loan at National League North side Harrogate Town where he helped guide them to promotion with some commanding displays at the heart of defence. Could well be in for a taste of the first team next season should he be called upon.

Kun Temenuzhkov - Signed from Barcelona's youth set-up last summer. The young Bulgarian striker was wanted by a host of clubs including Manchester City but settled on a move to West Yorkshire. Featured prominently for the under-18's and is making a name for himself at Thorp Arch as a real poacher in front of goal.

Bobby Kamwa - Signed his first professional deal at Leeds in March. Kamwa is a central midfielder who was born in Cameroon and moved to England at the age of nine and has played a key role in the under-18's brilliant form this season. The 18-year-old was the player of the tournament at the recent Aspire Tri-Series, a competition Mark Jackson's side won.

Callum Nicell - Callum Nicell is an 18-year-old midfielder originally from Doncaster but has been with Leeds United at Thorp Arch throughout his playing career. The youngster has represented Republic of Ireland U18's three times and was called up to the under-19's during March's international break. He was named the 2016/17 Academy Player of the Year.

Jamie Shackleton - The 18-year-old midfielder has been tipped for big things by many who have seen him at Thorp Arch. Garry Monk included him in his pre-season squad in 2016 and former coach Neil Redfearn believes he will be a big name one day: “I think he’s a good footballer, he’s got great feet. He’s not the biggest, but he’s very tenacious. He reads the game well.”

Shackleton has featured on a number of occasions this campaign for both the under-18s and 23s this season and is expected to make the permanent move up to Carlos Corberan's side this coming season as he continues his development.

Jordan Stevens - The 17-year-old joined United in January having impressed for Forest Green Rovers making 14 appearances and scoring once for the League Two outfit. Stevens will continue to develop in the 23s side but the Whites are expecting big things from a player they have invested heavily in to bring to Thorp Arch.

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