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Solihul Moors have done well to keep away from the relegation zone this season in the National League and although he wasn’t there at first, one reason is their 19-year-old striker Oladapo Afolayan.
Naturally Moors want to bring Afolayan along gradually, so his average of playing just 63 minutes per game is about right for a boy of his age. That makes his record of 4 goals in 11 games (only 3 starts) read a little better too and he is definitely one that bigger clubs are looking at right now.
He only joined the club in February and trains just once a week, owing to his commitment to gaining an engineering degree at Loughborough University. This admirable dedication to his education can only make him a better footballer in the future and it makes you wonder how good he’ll be when he can train all week.
It’s not as though he only has a non-league background either, as his youth football up to age 14 was played at Chelsea. So he definitely has a good grounding in the game.
Swansea and Leicester’s interest is undoubtedly real. However, depending on their plight come the summer they are less likely to take a chance and so Championship clubs could be right at the head of the queue. Step forward Midland rivals Birmingham City and Derby County.
Birmingham have had a shocking second half of the season and do not look too much like a club going places right now. Getting rid of Gary Rowett seemed a strange thing for them to do at the time and looks even weirder now given the success he is having in his early games at Derby. If they turn out to be Derby’s chief rivals for Afolayan’s signature, the Rams should get into gear, put a package together and blow their rivals out.
Derby look to be on the up and could threaten the play-off places or even challenge for the Championship title next season. They would be able to offer Afolayan a chance to improve his game at this level before potentially moving to the Premier League.
The real reason why Derby have to look at options like Afolayan is because of the make-up of their current squad. Tuesday’s hat-trick hero David Nugent is 31-years-old now; Darren Bent is 33 and despite getting his wish to play more centrally, Matej Vydra has been very disappointing recently. Looking at the future, Derby surely cannot pass up the opportunity to sign a striker who could be banging in the goals for years to come.