SA starlet closing in on Premier League

SA Players Abroad

No South African player has made an appearance in the Premier League since Steven Pienaar in 2017, but that could all change this season following the rise of Leicester City starlet Khanya Leshabela.

For the second consecutive season, Leshabela has been included in Leicester's pre-season squad and he made a rare start for the club in their 2-0 friendly win over Birmingham City on Wednesday.

Scroll through the gallery above for images of Leshabela at Leicester City

The 20-year-old, who ordinarily operates as a midfielder or winger, started the match at left-back in the absence of Ben Chilwell and Christian Fuchs, and delivered a strong performance before being substituted on the hour mark.

Leshabela joined the Foxes' academy in 2013, and has progressed rapidly through the club's youth and reserve team ranks, being nominated for the Academy Player of the Year Award in 2018 and featuring in the UEFA Youth League along the way.

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He featured on the bench for the first team during a Carabao Cup game against Southampton last year, and has been knocking on the door with his performances for the U23 side ever since.

Manager Brendan Rodgers' decision to play Leshabela in the backline against Birmingham could be a promising sign that the Soshanguve-born starlet will finally make his breakthrough in the upcoming campaign.

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Chilwell, who is the club's first-choice left-back, looks increasingly likely to join Chelsea before the transfer window closes, and back-up Fuchs is 34 years old, meaning the young South African could find game time in the first team in his new role.

He is believed to be held in high regard by the Leicester coaching staff, and signed a professional contract with the club last season, which runs until the end of the 2021/22 season.

Note: Johannesburg-born midfielder Andrew Surman represented AFC Bournemouth during the 2019/20 campaign but is regarded as English by the Premier League due to his previous appearances with the England national U21 team.

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