The Premier League has reached the closing 10 games with each of the 20 managers making it clear about which players they favour and which players are little more than squad members, but it is those squad members which could make all the difference over the next two-and-a-half months. When the first-team regulars are beginning to fade because they have been used excessively, their understudies can step in and guide their respective clubs to title glory, a place in the top four, European football or simply avoiding relegation to the Championship.
There are plenty of punters who are placing bets on Manchester City to edge out Liverpool for the top-flight crown, and the majority of those will be calling on Pep Guardiola to start showing more faith in Leroy Sane. The winger has still made 18 starts in the Premier League this season, but that also means he has not featured in 10 first XIs. Despite that, the Germany international has still provided eight goals and nine assists and delivered them at a better rate than Raheem Sterling. Guardiola will have to find a balance between the remaining three competitions which City find themselves in, but Sane has not been used as much as he would want to in the Premier League.
Injury and squad rotation has also resulted in Henrikh Mkhitaryan not been given too many opportunities in the league. The playmaker has only made 12 starts in the Premier League this season, but the Armenian has shown over the past two matches that he is currently deserving of a place in the team. Two goals and three assists have come against Southampton and Bournemouth, and there are signs that the 30-year-old is finally starting to justify Arsenal's insistence on signing him when Alexis Sanchez made the switch to Manchester United.
Wolverhampton Wanderers paid a club-record fee when they signed Adama Traore from Middlesbrough last summer, but the winger has only become a bit-part player for Nuno Espirito Santo. Traore's end product in the final third has been desperately poor for the majority of the campaign and that has left him with just six starts in the Premier League, but Wolves' small squad are starting to show signs of tiredness and may benefit from the pacey Traore being brought into the team. The West Midlands outfit delivered a flat performance at Huddersfield Town on Tuesday night without Traore being introduced into the game, and Nuno will surely have to rethink his use of the 23-year-old over the coming weeks.
Charlie Austin was linked with a switch to Wolves in the January transfer window, but the forward remained at Southampton and now finds himself in line to get opportunities under Ralph Hasenhuttl due to injuries in attack. Austin has only provided two goals in the league, but the 29-year-old has been starved of a prolonged run in the starting lineup with neither Mark Hughes or Hasenhuttl regarding him as first choice. However, he is arguably Southampton's best finisher, and three or four goals in the run-in could keep the Saints in the top flight.
The form of Glenn Murray has led to Brighton & Hove Albion boss Chris Hughton leaving summer signing Florin Andone out of his starting lineup for much of the campaign, but the Seagulls now find themselves in a relegation battle and with Murray making a limited impact since the turn of the year. Andone has spent the last three games on the sidelines due to suspension, but the Romanian now deserves a run in the starting lineup. Three goals have come from his seven starts in all competitions, with another being netted after being introduced as a first-half substitute. Brighton have also only lost one game in which the 25-year-old has featured in the first XI, and the time is now to place more faith in the forward.