Top clubs rarely miss a trick nowadays, even if it means sending scouts into the depths of English football to seek out some of the best talent the country’s lower leagues have to offer. But there’s one man currently plying his trade in the Championship who a number of top-flight clubs will be keeping a close eye on. And if you’re looking for the next Jamie Vardy – this man is almost a carbon copy.
Scott Hogan’s goal against Newcastle United at the weekend was his eighth of the season in the league, meaning he’s already surpassed his tally from last season for Brentford.
That’s not to say he had a poor campaign last time out though. Having had a torrid time with injuries over the last two years, Hogan made his return to the first-team late last season, scoring seven goals in as many games for the Bees.
But for all the glimpses of quality he’s shown in recent months, a look at his early career tells you all you need to know about where the 24-year-old’s future could be heading.
Like Vardy, Hogan spent much of his early career playing non-league football after being released by the club he grew up with. For Vardy that club was Sheffield Wednesday, for Hogan it was Rochdale.
Following his release, he signed for FC Halifax Town in the 2010-11 campaign, playing a role in the Shaymen’s promotion from the Northern Premier League – a medal both he and Vardy have in their trophy cabinets.
After that campaign, Hogan continued with Halifax until December 2011, before moving to Stocksbridge Park Steels (ring any bells?), where he scored seven goals in 16 appearances.
Following that brief spell with another of Vardy’s old clubs, Hogan spent time with both Ashton United and Hyde.
It took Hogan another two years playing non-league football before his old side Rochdale came calling again in the summer of 2013.
That first season back in the EFL brought about 19 goals in 40 appearances, and the striker was a key figure in the Dale’s automatic promotion to League One. It was those goals which saw him pick up the club’s Supporters’ Player of the Year award.
But his former club was just a stepping stone to bigger things, it seemed, as Hogan left the Greater Manchester outfit for Brentford in the summer of 2014, for a deal worth around £800K. That’s a considerable amount for a player with no experience in the top three tiers of English football.
And while injuries played a part in his first two years with the Bees, he’s more than proved his worth since the turn of the year, scoring 15 goals in 19 league games across two seasons, including a stunning hat-trick against Preston North End.
So what next for the 24-year-old? Promotion to the top-flight? A Premier League medal? An England call-up?
Unlikely, maybe. But by no means impossible – just ask Vardy.
Up next for Hogan’s Brentford is a trip to Derby, where the visitors could climb into the top six should other results go their way, and it’s no surprise that the striker is 9/2 favourite to open the scoring tonight.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing