EFL Ones to Watch: Jed Wallace

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Jed Wallace
Jed Wallace (7) of Millwall during the Sky Bet Championship match between Nottingham Forest and Millwall at the City Ground, Nottingham on Saturday 7th March 2020. (Photo by Jon Hobley/ MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Last Word on Football’s EFL Ones to Watch series takes a look at the standout performers who are really pulling up trees in the Football League this season. Millwall’s Jed Wallace has been one of the Championship’s standout wingers. He’s the creative force behind a Gary Rowett revolution that has seen the Lions climb from 18th to eighth in the table. He’s got ten goals and nine assists.

Jed Wallace: EFL Ones to Watch

Two Loan Spells Become Permanent

Wallace initially signed for the Lions on loan from Wolverhampton Wanderers in January 2016, and he made 12 appearances as Neil Harris‘ side reached the League One play-off final. The winger then returned on another temporary basis halfway through the following season. This time, Millwall went one better – seeing off Bradford City to seal promotion at Wembley. Wallace scored three goals along the way, and after earning promotion he left Wolves and became a Lion permanently.

Since then, he’s never looked back. The 26-year-old has been Millwall’s main creative hub for the past few years. The Lions upset the odds and finished eighth on their return to the Championship, but the following season they finished only four points above the relegation zone.

Millwall’s Turnaround Under Gary Rowett

The 2019/20 campaign didn’t get off to the best of starts for either player or club. After a promising opening few matches (Wallace scored on the opening day), he got sent off in Millwall’s mid-August 1-0 win over Sheffield Wednesday. He returned and scored in the Lions’ draw against Hull City at the end of that month, but that was the start of a six-game winless run.

After the Londoners conceded a late goal in a 1-1 draw at Luton Town, the fans were starting to get on Neil Harris’ back, prompting the club legend to resign. He left them 18th in the table. Supporters may have dreaded another season battling relegation, but his replacement Gary Rowett has done an incredible job in turning their fortunes around.

Millwall have taken 40 points from the ex-Birmingham City manager’s 25 games in charge. They’re now sitting pretty in eighth and Wallace has scored six times since Rowett took over at the Den. Under the new manager, the Lions have swayed from their long-ball style under Harris to a more attacking approach, and it’s fair to say a player of Wallace’s quality is reaping the rewards.

Jed Wallace is a Dead Ball Specialist

The former Wolves man is a set-piece master. He’s got four assists from corners, the joint-most in the second tier. When you’ve got players with the stature of Jake Cooper and Matt Smith, having a good corner taker is pretty handy.

The 26-year-old can often conjure up the spectacular from free kicks. He’s mastered the technique of hitting a powerful dead ball with his sensational right foot. Most notably, he scored one of the Championship’s goals of the season at Cardiff City. With his team 1-0 down, Wallace hit a world-class side-footed effort that dipped into the top corner from around 30 yards. A pure individual moment of brilliance that earned his team a point – and Wallace is a footballer who specialises in producing those moments of magic that can often decide a game.

The Reading-born winger isn’t just a master of set pieces – he’s also capable of creating a plethora of chances from open play. He’s chalked up 8.57 expected assists according to Wyscout, which is the highest in the league.

Furthermore, he’s completed 78 dribbles, the fifth highest in the division. On average, he delivers 2.1 accurate crosses per game, a figure only bettered by Stewart Downing.

When the transfer window re-opens, Rowett will certainly want to hold onto his star man. Despite reports that Aston Villa were targetting him in January, the Lions managed to keep him at the Den. If Millwall don’t achieve an unlikely promotion and Villa come calling in the next transfer window, it may be hard for them to stand in Wallace’s way – if he wants to leave.

 

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