As we approach the midway point in the Sky Bet Championship season, teams begin to prepare to strengthen their squad in the January transfer window, as well as keep hold of their most valuable players. It is therefore time to look at those who have shined so far this season, and consider the possibility of a move to the Premier League in January for some of this season’s stars.
Goalkeeper: Jordan Pickford
The Preston shot-stopper has had an impressive start to life in the English Second Division. The 21 year old, on loan from parent club Sunderland, will be using this loan spell to strengthen his credentials and has so far been doing a fantastic job. The club from Deepdale has only conceded 18 goals so far this campaign.
Right Back: Dominic Iorfa
Possibly a controversial choice considering the amount of goals Wolves have shipped this season, Iorfa has stood out as an impressive and composed youth. At only 20, he possesses the pace and strength to lead attacks down the wing, and so would offer any team in the division an alternative route for attack.
Centre Backs: Michael Dawson, Daniel Ayala
Michael Dawson led the Hull back line this season up until a recent injury, which has seen a slump in form as they fell from the automatic promotion spots. His presence and experience has helped the Tigers numerous times this season, and his absence is evident. Meanwhile Daniel Ayala has been one of the key figures in ensuring Middlesbrough have only conceded 12 goals this season, less than any other team. His recent performance against Brighton has proven his worth as a possible Premier League defender in the future.
Left Back: George Friend
Another attacking full back in the Championship is Middlesbrough’s George Friend. It is not uncommon to see him fly down the wing before cutting into the opposition’s penalty area. As if Middlesbrough lacked attacking threat, Friend offers a direct and at times unstoppable route, and means other talented fullbacks such as James Husband are unable to break into the first team.
Right Midfield: Stewart Downing
Quite how Middlesbrough managed to attract Steward Downing to play in a lower division remains a mystery, but his quality is clear. The 31-year-old midfielder, who can also play in the middle, who was signed for £5 million in summer, offers creativity to an already solid Boro midfield.
Central Midfielders: Alan Judge, Adam Clayton
Arguably the best midfielder this season, Brentford’s Alan Judge has been playing some fantastic football. With 10 goals already from midfield, including a recent brace against Huddersfield, Judge will surely be attracting the attention of bigger and better teams in the future, should Brentford not make the playoffs. Adam Clayton, on the other hand, offers stability to Middlesbrough’s midfield and is one of the reasons their defence is as good as it is. He too will be wishing for Premier League football next year.
Left Midfield: Tom Ince
Ince has been seen in the past as a player who highlights what is wrong with English football: Temperamental, lazy and at times thinking he’s better than he actually is. Having joined Derby in the summer for £4.75 million, a lot was expected of the youngster. He is fast, and an excellent dribbler, suiting Derby’s style of play and injecting fear into opposition defences.
Strikers: Andre Gray, Ross McCormack
Former Brentford striker Andre Gray joined Burnley for a club record £9 million in summer, and has delivered for his new club. Gray has already bagged 12 goals this season for the Clarets, with his pace and finishing a sign of a player who is fighting for Premier League football. Ross McCormack is showing those who doubted his £11 million price tag exactly how good a player he is. McCormack has scored 12 goals also, and has helped Fulham to score 36 this season, more than any other club. His incredible finishing, creativity, and frankly superb free kicks is why he is arguably the best player in the championship. With Fulham lingering in the bottom half of the table, it would not be surprising if McCormack left the Cottagers. A man of his quality would succeed even in the Premier League.
(Featured image credit -http://www.theguardian.com/football/2015/sep/25/fulham-qpr-championship-match-report#img-1)