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Paolo's Preview: A look ahead at the 2021/22 season

The 2021/22 season is just around the corner as Posh mark their return to the Championship with a trip to Luton Town on Saturday (3pm). 
Paolo's look at Posh's upcoming Championship campaign

Excitement is undoubtedly building around the city at the moment as we're less than 48 hours away from our return to England’s second division; a day that supporters have been looking forward to since that nightmare day at Selhurst Park in 2013. 

Ahead of the brand-new season, Paolo Iantosca spoke to fellow Posh supporters on specific topics, including who will be the key man, the surprise star, and the signing of the summer so far. 

Darren Ferguson’s key man this season

Jonson Clarke-Harris was Posh's standout player last season, netting 31 goals in 45 League One games - and ending as the golden boot winner in the division. His impressive form was recognised by supporters with his award as Foreverposh Player of the Year, but was also noted by the division when he won League One’s Player of the Season. 

The 27-year-old has barely featured in pre-season so far, only completing 45 minutes against Kings Lynn on Tuesday, but supporters will be hoping that their leading marksman can quickly replicate his form into the Championship.

However, Posh supporter Paddy believes Frankie Kent will be the most valuable player for the club this season. He said: “He’s solid and I think he’ll do well this season.

“As a unit, the defence has been pretty solid, and he’s been a vital part of that. There were times last season where he was winning every header during a tough period of the game, which shows that battle readiness.”

The defender was a pivotal member of the side that secured promotion to the Championship and was rightly rewarded with a new deal in May.

While scoring goals in the Championship is crucial to any survival, the defence needs to be strong and commanding, which is where Kent will come in.

Which Posh academy graduate will impress this season?

Darragh MacAnthony and his fellow co-owners have shown a desire to help push academy players into the first team, especially after being accepted as a Category ‘2’ Academy earlier this year.

Last season, we saw Harrison Burrows enjoy a breakthrough season in the first-team, featuring in 27 games and notching seven assists - third-highest at the club last season.

Kelan Sarson, Posh supporter, believes Burrows can make that step up to the Championship. He said: “I think there’s a lot of promising young talent coming through at Posh that could make the step up to the second tier, namely Harrison Burrows, who has impressed in pre-season and seems to have become on the cusp of the first-team status.

“Ronnie Edwards is an obvious pick too - plays way above his age, he's so calm and a defender that could slot in when needed in the Championship.”

Edwards, 18, has certainly caught the eye of management and supporters at Posh as his versatility to play in midfield could see the teenager break into first-team this season. At the start of pre-season, Ferguson confirmed that Edwards would be given a first-team role this season.

Who will be the signing of the season?

After a slow start to transfer business, Posh has quickly burst into life over the past month, bringing in eight new faces so far, from Football League gems in Joe Randall and Kwame Poku to the experienced head of David Cornell.

Arguably the most exciting piece of business so far is the return of Jack Marriott. 

The acquisition of Lincoln City’s Jorge Grant has also excited supporters after he was involved in 30 goals in 50 appearances for the Imps last season.

But Nilesh Patel believes the return of Josh Knight will have the biggest impact on the squad this season and hopes the club can bring in a ‘wise head’ to round off some encouraging business. 

He said: “Josh Knight, a player with recent Championship experience, will prove invaluable with our young and relatively inexperienced squad at the championship level.

“Transfer business has been encouraging, where we've bought in young talent. I still think we need to bring in a 'wise' head.”

The former Leicester City man was a constant figure in Wycombe Wanderers defence last season in the Championship and featured in 37 games, boasting plenty of experience in England’s second division.

Similar to Edwards, his versatility could be a useful asset for Ferguson this season, where he's prominently a central defender but can also slot into midfield.

The surprise star in the Championship

The returning heads of Clarke-Harris, Kent and Sammie Szmodics are expected to be the pivotal figures of the squad in the Championship this season but there’s always one or two players that can make that instant step-up and surprise a few supporters. 

Joe Ward was arguably the most improved player last season, playing a crucial role in Posh's promotion. He picked up 13 assists, which was the second-highest in League One behind Sunderland’s Aiden McGeady.

So, which player can we expect to surprise a few players this season?

Nathan Brown, who has supported Posh since the age of 7, sees the academy duo of Ricky Jade-Jones and Burrows becoming an integral part of the first-team alongside the attacking quartet of Szmodics, Dembele, Clarke-Harris and Marriott. 

“I have a sneaky feeling RJJ may be a massive asset off the bench and on the break, especially against better sides who will push forward in the Championship. I’m really excited to see what our youth products can do, and I’d expect Burrows to push on again and be an integral part of the side.

“In terms of players who we’ve brought in, I can’t wait to see what Randall can do and how he links up with Sammie, Grant, Dembele, JCH and Marriott. It’s sure to be a brilliant season, and I feel we’ve got a squad and the depth to push on again!”

Jade-Jones had a disappointing campaign in League One last season after a lengthy injury kept the teenage striker out until early December. He could only manage 19 appearances, scoring just once, but has enjoyed an injury free-hit pre-season and will be looking to play a key part of Posh return to England’s second tier.