McMahon: The Best of the English Premier League's Rookies in 2004

By Bobby McMahon - With over a third of the season already in the books it's a chance to take a closer look at the Premiership class of 2004. Age is not a factor; the only criterion is that none of the players had kicked a ball in the Premiership prior to August 14th this year.

In goal you don't have to look any further than the man who has chalked up enough clean sheets to calm the fears of any Rupophobia sufferer. Petr Cech has shut out the opposition in nine out of fourteen league games this season and has only allowed six goals. Although the giant Czech didn't officially move to Chelsea until July the $12.5 million deal with Rennes was done during winter transfer window. At 22 he is without a doubt the best young goalkeeper in the world and looks set to break striker's hearts for seasons to come.

Tony McMahon of Middlesbrough may have just turned 18 but his displays at right back have already turned more heads than Linda Blair. McMahon has taken the opportunity presented by the injury to Dutch international Michael Reiziger and in his seven appearances 'Boro has yet to lose. The youngster captained Middlesbrough to the FA Youth Cup last season and has represented England at both the Under-17 and 18 levels.

On the opposite flank is Gabriel Heinze who delayed his Manchester United debut until after a gold medal winning performance by Argentina in Athens. Signed from PSG Heinze can also play in the center of the defense and he likes to get forward at set pieces. Born to a German father and an Italian mother in Patagonia Heinze apparently has a decent grasp of the Welsh language a talent that will surely come in handy someday!

Dominant in the air 26 year-old Ricardo Carvalho has slotted in nicely with John Terry at the heart of the Chelsea back four. Carvalho didn't come cheaply though costing Roman Abramovich $36M when he moved from Porto. He was outstanding last season in the UEFA Champions League and although he missed the opening game of the European Championship he was recalled for the second game and helped solidify the Portuguese defense.

Not many English fans would have heard of Radhi Jaidi before last summer but the first ever Tunisian to join the Premiership has made a name for himself since signing for Bolton in July of this year. Jaidi at 6' 3