Five Championship stars who could just be the new Antonio

Danny Rust says West Ham could be set to raid the lower leagues again

Most clubs in recent years have been looking abroad to bring in new stars, but West Ham have also been giving Championship players a chance.

We’ve signed Aaron Cresswell, Sam Byram, Darren Randolph and Michail Antonio from Championship sides in the last 24 months and they’ve all proved to be great signings. Here are five players who shone in the Championship this season that could interest Slaven Bilic this summer:

Moses Odubajo Hull City

Odubajo is local lad having grown up in Greenwich and come through the ranks at neighbours Leyton Orient. It was with the O’s in the 2013/14 season that the 22-year-old really caught the eye. He shone for Russell Slade’s side and contributed goals and many assists. Odubajo also scored in the play-off final defeat to Rotherham United and his impressive season earned him a move to Brentford. A good season at Griffin Park earned him a move to Hull City, where he has mainly turned out at right back. Odubajo would be good cover for Sam Byram and as he can play at right back or right midfield, he could prove invaluable if the Hammers have a pile-up of injuries.

Jake Cooper Reading

The central defender has been a mainstay in the side since Brian McDermott returned to the Madejski Stadium, and he has earned rave reviews. A number of Premier League sides were tracking Cooper’s progress up until the January transfer window but the 21-yearold remained at the Berkshire club. Cooper, 21, signed a new contract with the Royals in October, which will keep him at the club until 2018. But, with Reading failing to win promotion last season, the young defender could be persuaded to move to the Olympic Stadium in the summer.

Alex Mowatt Leeds United

Mowatt, like January signing Sam Byram, came through the ranks at Leeds United and has gone on to become a regular in the first team. The midfielder has shone for the Yorkshire side and has been one of the Whites’ star performers. Born in Doncaster, Mowatt joined Leeds at the age of nine.

The ex-England U19 and U20 international then spent nine years progressing through the ranks before being handed his first team debut in 2013. Since then, Mowatt has made close to 100 appearances and scored 12 goals. He is known to be a danger from outside the box, with Mowatt having scored most of his goals from long-range. With Leeds still struggling to mount a promotion push since they were relegated from the Premier League in 2004, West Ham may be able to persuade Mowatt to follow in the footsteps of Byram.

Ademola Lookman Charlton Athletic

The Wandsworth-born attacker has impressed since making his Charlton Athletic debut in November. Lookman joined the Addicks’ academy in 2014 from Waterloo FC, a youth football club.

Lookman, who can operate as a winger or a striker, scored goals for fun in Charlton’s U18 and U21 sides and that resulted in him turning out for the first team in the 3-2 defeat to Brighton & Hove Albion. Since then, Lookman has regularly been involved with the first team and has notched four goals in his first 10 Championship appearances. The likes of Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur were linked with making a move for the 18-year-old in the January transfer window due to his impressive displays.

But instead the South London club managed to tie the sought-after Lookman to a new improved contract. However, with the Addicks struggling dropping into the third tier of English football, Charlton could be forced into selling their prized asset. Expect a host of Premier League sides to come in for the highly-rated star following Charlton’s relegation.

Jordan Rhodes Middlesbrough

Rhodes has been linked with a move to the Premier League for years, but the striker is yet to get his chance in the top flight. Blackburn Rovers, his former club, blocked moves to several Premier League clubs in the last three years. The Hammers even made a move for the Scotland international in the January 2012 transfer window as then manager Sam Allardyce looked to improve his attacking options going into the final half of the season.

But Rovers rejected moves for the frontman and he remained at Ewood Park while the Hammers won promotion to the top flight in a Championship play-off final win over Blackpool. Rhodes, 26, is now at Middlesbrough with former Hammer Stewart Downing. With Boro thought to be open to offers, West Ham and other Premier League clubs could finally give Rhodes a chance.

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