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Five to follow in 2018

Five to follow in 2018

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As we head towards the end of the year, it is the perfect time to look forward to the names to watch in 2018.

As well as the major annual events, there is the World Cup, Winter Olympics and Ryder Cup…here are just five of the sports stars to focus on next year.

1) Kylian Mbappe
This French teenager has already made the football world sit up and take notice and is threatening to overshadow some of his more high-profile team-mates.
Mbappe (50/1 Champions League 2017-18 Top Goalscorer) has scored 13 goals in all competitions this term – with four of those goals coming in an impressive Champions League group stage.
The 19-year-old is also likely to play a big part for his country at this summer’s World Cup finals, with France 6/1 to lift the trophy in Russia on July 15.

2) Finn Russell
The Scotland centre has enjoyed a meteoric rise in the last couple of years, which has coincided with his country’s resurgence (Scotland 9/1 Six Nations 2018).
Russell only established himself as Scotland’s first-choice number 10 in 2015 and next year he will move to French club Racing 92 as a replacement for legendary All Black Dan Carter.
With wins over Samoa and Australia this Autumn, and also running New Zealand close, Scotland (11/4 to win Pool A – 2019 World Cup) look realistic challengers for the Six Nations title in 2018.

3) Karolina Pliskova
It was a year to build on for Czech ace Pliskova, who recorded three WTA tournament titles while also reaching the semi-finals of the end-of-season WTA Finals.
The 25-year-old (9/1 to win the Australian Open) reached the semi-finals of the French Open in 2017 and reached the top of the world rankings for the first time in July.
Having established herself in the top five, Pliskova (16/1 French Open winner) should enjoy decent draws in the big four events next year….although beware the return of Serena Williams!

4) Tommy Fleetwood
If you had asked even the biggest golf fan at the start of 2017 about Tommy Fleetwood (100/1 Masters Outright), they would not have been able to tell you too much.
But what a twelve months it has been for the man from Merseyside, who claimed two European Tour titles and also a top-five finish in a major.
The 26-year-old, who was fourth at the US Open, has moved into the world’s top 20 and has already stipulated his target of Ryder Cup (23/20 Europe to lift the trophy) qualification this year.

5) Tom Curran
It has been another Ashes disappointment for England this winter, which is likely to lead to big changes come the summer – when Pakistan and India tour.
With the likes of James Anderson and Alistair Cook seemingly coming towards the end of their international careers, the England selectors will be starting to blood the stars of the future.
Curran, at the age of just 22, was called up for the fourth Ashes Test in Melbourne and a no-ball robbed him of the scalp of David Warner, when the Aussie opener was on 99.

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Warren Ashurst Warren has been a sports journalist for over 25 years, both written and broadcast. Having worked as a radio commentator, he has a wealth of experience of seeing top-level sport first hand and specialises in football, golf and cricket.