With Ivan Toney’s departure to Brentford for an undisclosed fee – rumoured to be around the £5m mark – now confirmed, discussion about who will claim next year’s League One Top Scorer award can now begin.
Previous winners include the likes of Billy Sharp, Lyle Taylor, Will Grigg and Ivan Toney, all of whom later going on to enjoy successful spells a division above – or, in the case of 34-year-old Sharp, two divisions up!
In no particular order, let’s have a look at some of the names I suggest – but make sure to comment below who you think will take this year’s golden boot!
Jonson Clarke-Harris – Peterborough United
Pre-season title favourites Peterborough United have opted to replace the departed Ivan Toney with Jonson Clarke-Harris, who joins for a hefty seven figure fee after an impressive spell at Bristol Rovers.
Clarke-Harris, who began his career at Coventry City, was previously with Posh during their 2012-13 Championship campaign – but after failing to make to impact at London Road was sold to Oldham Athletic for an undisclosed fee. Time back in the Championship with Rotherham United, including loan spells at both MK Dons and Doncaster Rovers, followed, alongside a further spell with his boyhood Sky Blues – but it was at the Memorial Stadium that the forward finally settled and found his feet.
An impressive 24 goals in 40 league games for Rovers ensued, more than indicating an ability to match what Toney achieved with Posh. Though he has big shoes to fill in wake of the former Northampton Town man’s departure, ‘JCH’ will be supported by the likes of Siriki Dembele, Joe Ward and Mo Eisa, all of whom playing integral roles in allowing his predecessor to notch 25 in the league last season thanks to their creative abilities.
Macauley Bonne – Charlton Athletic
Despite currently finding themselves amidst an off-field crisis, Lee Bowyer’s side still comprises of some excellent players for third tier level – and striker Macauley Bonne is of no exception to this rule.
The forward, who joined the Addicks last summer from then non-league Leyton Orient, enjoyed a positive campaign in the Championship last season – netting 11 times in 33 games for the relegation-doomed Reds – and could find himself more than topping that a division down over the coming nine months.
What will be essential to Bonne’s success is the midfield behind him. Already boasting Chuks Aneke, regarded as one of the most creative and potent forwards at this level after impressive spells with Crewe Alexandra and MK Dons, Bowyer has now made the acquisition of fellow former Don Alex Gilbey, joining from the Buckinghamshire side for an undisclosed fee this summer. Both will act as creative outlets for Bonne, who should have no issue topping at least 15 goals after his formidable efforts a division above last time out.
Matty Taylor – Oxford United
Oxford United’s Matty Taylor is the next on this list after returning to his boyhood club on a permanent deal this summer.
Starting his career with the U’s but only making seven professional appearances before a release, Taylor then spent time in non-league system before finally breaking back into the league with Bristol Rovers after their promotion in 2015. 27 goals in 46 League Two outings would then help his club to a second successive promotion, Rovers finishing 3rd in the league and securing an automatic spot.
Though after a controversial move to rivals Bristol City in the Championship, the Oxford-born’s form somewhat dipped as he struggled to come to terms with the second division, finding himself on the scoreboard just seven times in 67 outings. But a loan move to Oxford last summer reignited his career, netting an impressive 13 goals in 26 league games.
Will Grigg – Sunderland
A wildcard thrown onto this list is 2015/16 Top Scorer Will Grigg, the man who netted 25 times in 40 games for the Latics that campaign. Though the former Walsall and Brentford man has more than struggled since his arrival in the North East, his impressive CV at this level surely means that no one should discount him from reigniting his form, were he to get his act together this season.
Grigg, having thrice played a central role in a team’s promotion from League One – once with MK Dons and twice with Wigan Athletic – is rightfully recognised as being one of the most potent forwards at this level over the past decade; however, this hasn’t stopped him from struggling to adapt to life at Sunderland. After failing to impress under Ross in his inaugural calendar year at the club, the Scot’s successor Phil Parkinson all-but exiled the striker from his squad with the former Northern Ireland international making just three minutes’ worth of appearances in the new year.
But with Parkinson’s squad now possessing just three recognised strikers – Charlie Wyke and Benjamin Mbunga-Kimpioka being the other two – and more midweek games, the former Bolton manager may be forced to select the man for whom the Mackems shelled out over £4m in early 2019. And were he to get back to playing his best – anything is possible for Grigg, still aged just 29.
But who do you think will take the crown this season? With there always likely to be a shock candidate, it is impossible to tell this early in the season before a league game has kicked off. Let us know in the comments below, or tell us on Twitter using the #FansFirst hashtag!