In one of Europe’s most competitive leagues, standing out in the National League can prove difficult, but here are five players to watch in England’s fifth-tier during 2022.

By Amos Murphy

Tahvon Campbell – Woking

It’s perhaps not unfair to suggest Tahvon Campbell has been the difference between mid-table serenity and a relegation scrap for Woking this season, with the winger having scored over a third of the club’s goals so far.

A name already mentioned amongst the National League’s best players, Campbell’s career path so far has at times been bumpy, with the former-West Bromwich Albion youth product seemingly finding his feet at Woking.

With his contract due to expire at the end of the season, the Cardinals could look to cash in on the exciting forward in January, but should they choose to keep hold of him, there is little to suggest Campbell cannot carry on tormenting the division’s defences.

Tipped to make a return to the Football League in the coming years, Woking will be keen to retain his services in 2022, with an unlikely but not impossible playoff push still in the pipeline.

Will Collar – Stockport County

Few, if any, could argue with the decision taken by Stockport County to get rid of much-maligned boss Simon Rusk in mid-October, replacing him with current manager Dave Challinor – none more so than Will Collar.

It felt like Collar was often misused at the start of the season under Rusk, but he was immediately ushered into the squad by Challinor and has since flourished. Having missed only one league match since the former-Hartlepool United boss arrived at Edgeley Park, Collar has established himself as a key part of Stockport’s side.

Will Collar Stockport County

Credit: Will Collar (Instagram @willcollar) / Stockport County Football Club

A dynamic midfielder crucial to County’s output at both ends, the 24-year-old ended the calendar year in fine form, netting four goals in his final four games of 2021.

With the Hatters well and truly in the title mix, don’t be surprised to see Collar’s name mentioned amongst the division’s standout players, come the end of the season.

Sam Dalby – Southend United

There hasn’t been much for the Southend United faithful to be excited about this season, but the emergence of Sam Dalby has provided some optimism for the Shrimpers.

Following a number of loan spells with other National League sides, Dalby joined Southend on a permanent deal from Watford in the summer.

A regular starter for Kevin Maher since he returned to the dugout at Roots Hall, Dalby has netted five goals for a relegation-threatened Southend, with the 22-year-old’s performances a rare bright spark in an otherwise dismal campaign.

Dalby could take inspiration from current Senior Football Strategist and Southend club legend Stan Collymore, whose goals helped save the Shrimpers from First Division relegation in 1992/93.

Marcus Sablier - Bromley

If you’re looking to find a diamond in London most people would point you towards the jewellers in Hatton Garden, yet Marcus Sablier is one gem from South of the river plenty of people will want to get their hands on.

An academy graduate with Bromley, Sablier has enjoyed a breakout season at the South East London club, making 11 league appearances before the turn of the year.

Part of a Bromley side pushing for a first-ever promotion to the Football League, the zestful midfielder has shone for the Ravens, netting twice so far this season.

However, the 18-year-old’s standout moment came in front of the BT Sport cameras, when he pulled off an acrobatic overhead kick during Bromley’s 2-0 win over Torquay United in October. Expect more of the same in 2022 for the silky Sablier.

Max Cleworth – Wrexham

Amongst the glitz and glamour of Wrexham’s star-studded squad, a Welsh-born teenager is emerging out of the rough, going by the name Max Cleworth.

Having graduated from the club’s academy system, Cleworth was a regular fixture early on in the season, before dropping out of contention as Autumn rolled in.

Finding minutes in the Red Dragons side hard to come by, Cleworth was handed an opportunity in Wrexham’s recent 5-0 thumping of National League North side Gloucester City.

Deployed in an unfamiliar midfield position, the 19-year-old dictated play, whilst capping off his stellar performance with a wonder strike. Having caught the eye of manager Phil Parkinson, Cleworth will definitely be one to watch in 2022.

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