Continuing my look ahead to the new season with a focus on the younger members of the professional circuit...
I’d back Mark Allen to kick on from his fine end to last season, when he beat Ronnie O’Sullivan en route to the Betfred.com World Championship semi-finals.
Allen has always been a great talent bestowed with considerable self belief. His confidence will be at an all time high right now – as he proved by winning the Jiangsu Classic in June – and he could well lift more silverware in the next year.
His downfall in the past has been keeping his frustration at bay, but there were few signs of self implosion at the Crucible and Allen must surely be one to follow this season.
Judd Trump has been thrown into the lion’s den of the Premier League, which will be a great experience for him playing live on television against some of the biggest names of the sport.
Trump’s chief problem thus far in his career has been reproducing the excellent form he’s shown at the qualifiers at the main venues.
Time is on a side – he’s still a teenager – but those who love to carp from the sidelines will soon be on his back if he doesn’t continue his upward progress this season.
The Bristol lad is in the top 32 for the first time. His target this year must surely be a top 16 place.
Jamie Cope seems to have stalled a little since he appeared in two ranking finals during the 2006/07 campaign.
He looked a certainty for the top 16 back then but hasn’t quite made the breakthrough. Like many players of his age, Cope is a frighteningly good long potter and break-builder but is yet to develop the sort of all round game a player can fall back on when they are not firing on all cylinders.
Liang Wenbo is another good example of this. When it all works for him, he looks deadly but, when it doesn’t, he can look average.
Liang won the £50,000 first prize in the recent Beijing Challenge and has the potential to be a top 16 player but this, of course, does not mean that he will be one.
His fellow Chinese Ding Junhui feels like a veteran but is still only 22. In beating Liang at the World Championship he suggested he had finally got himself out of a worrying slump in form but could not sustain this in the second round against Stephen Hendry.
You don’t win the UK Championship at the age of 18 without being an excellent player. Ding’s problems are not with his game but his mental state. If he can sort them out he will be a winner again.
Daniel Wells won three matches 10-9 before losing another to be denied a place at the Crucible in his debut season.
Wells does mix attack and defence and this was one of the reasons he managed to carve out enough results to keep his place on the tour.
David Morris is yet to set the world alight but has crept up to 58th in the rankings and has the ability to go further but needs a breakthrough – a good run in a big event.
Snooker needs its young players to be doing well. Sports need to renew themselves with fresh faces to avoid the accusation they have stagnated.
For this reason, I wish the circuit’s young guns all the best for the coming season.