Championship stars of the season

by Mystical Mike

Tuesday, February 14th, 2012

While the race for the Premier League title hots up, let’s not forget there is plenty of football being played outside the top 20 teams in England.

Here are seven stand-out players from the Championship, all of whom could be playing in the top flight next season:

Albert Adomah

Despite making almost 200 league appearances for non league Harrow Borough and League Two side Barnet, Adomah was a largely unknown quantity when he arrived at Bristol City in the summer of 2010.

The winger was awarded Player of the Season for the 2010-11 campaign and has been a key player during City’s resurgence under new manager Derek McInnes this season. Following a 2-0 victory against league leaders Southampton, Adomah was described as “unplayable” by player-turned-pundit John Salako. A top flight team could do a lot worse than take a chance of the 24-year-old Ghana international.

Nathaniel Clyne

Still only 20-years-old and now in his fourth season at Crystal Palace, Clyne has been linked with moves to Premier League clubs almost continuously over the past two years. He rejected a move to Wolves in February 2010 and there has been interest from both Manchester United and Newcastle United this season.

The 2010-11 season saw Clyne become the youngest player in the Football League to play every single match of that campaign. Cool and assured beyond his years, Clyne won last season’s Player of the Year award and while he’s not quite ready to make a senior England appearance, he’s been tipped to play for Great Britain in this year’s Olympics.

Matt Phillips

Winger Phillips has improved significantly since joining Blackpool in a £350,000 deal from Wycombe Wanderers on deadline day last August. He made 27 Premier League appearances last season and scored within seconds of coming on as a substitute in a 2-1 home defeat against Blackburn Rovers.

Phillips joined Sheffield United on loan in October 2011 and scored six goals in six appearances and upon his return to Bloomfield Road, scored a hat-trick against Barnsley on Boxing Day and another against Fleetwood Town in the FA Cup.

Blackpool rejected a January bid from Cardiff City and he responded with two goals against the Bluebirds in a 3-1 victory at the Cardiff City Stadium just days later. When 20-year-old Phillips returns to the Premier League, he will stay there.

Kasper Schmeichel

Following a number of loan spells during his early career and a season at both Notts County and Leeds United, Schmeichel is earning a reputation as one of the top goalkeepers outside of the Premier League following his move to Leicester City last summer.

His performances for the Foxes prompted former manager Sven Goran Eriksson to compare him with England number one Joe Hart. In November, a close reaction save against Portsmouth was described by their manager, Michael Appleton as “one of the best saves I have seen in a very long time” and current City manager Nigel Pearson as “world class”.

With Leicester a speculative investment for free bets punters looking for an outsider to make a late surge for the play-offs, Schmeichel needs to be at his best between now and May.

Billy Sharp

After being bombed out by Sheffield United in 2005 for a paltry £100,000, Sharp made a name for himself in the lower leagues with Scunthorpe United where he scored 53 goals in 82 league appearances. A return to the Blades for £2 million in 2007 did not work out but a loan spell, followed by a permanent transfer to Doncaster Rovers saw a impress return of 40 goals in 82 league appearances.

Strikers of Sharp’s calibre are difficult to find and he was always destined for a higher level. He turned down a move to Leicester City in January which would have rewarded him with a £28,000 weekly pay cheque in favour of Southampton. The 26-year-old instantly repaid some of his £1.8 million transfer fee with a debut goal against Burnley and could be playing Premier League football with the promotion chasing Saints next season.

Peter Whittingham

After exiting the Premier League with Aston Villa to join Cardiff City in 2007, Whittingham has become a key player at the club over the past five seasons and is widely regarded as one of the most talented midfielders outside the top flight.

Whittingham scored an incredible 25 goals from midfield in all competitions during the 2009-10 season which helped City reach the play-off final and the follow season saw him score 11 goals. He was linked with moves to fellow Championship clubs such as West Ham United and Ipswich Town ahead of this season but, as a creative force under new manager Malky Mackay, will surely tempt Premier League teams if the Bluebirds do not win promotion this time around.

Wilfried Zaha

Teenage winger Zaha announced himself this season with a stunning performance in Crystal Palace’s shock 2-1 Carling Cup victory at Manchester United. He terrorised the United defence from start to finish and set up Darren Ambrose for his famous long-range goal against the Premier League champions.

Ivory Coast-born Zaha is fast, direct and possesses an array of tricks that makes a fool out of opposing defenders. He will be a Premier League player soon enough – Bolton Wanderers failed with bids of £5 million and £7 million during the January transfer window and somebody else is likely to come in for the 2011 Palace Young Player of the Year in the summer.


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  • dexylongshot

    BIlly Sahrp would definately make my Championship Cheata of the Season. The way he fell over last night after Matt TAlor tickeled him would have made Ref PAul Allcock proud. I would like to think that Lens Lehman and Drogba were applauding him too. It’s was proper keystone cops stuff. Disgraceful cheat.

    Other players who HAVE impressed me this season are (In no particular order). Lambert. Snodgrass. Tompkins. Can;t argue with Whittingham either, a very good player. Gradel was fantastic for Leeds when I saw him at the start of the season, then they go and sell him. Noone was very impressive as well when I saw him at Brighton.

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