Sam Sonnen selects eight players who could well find themselves in the Championship XI next May.
The Championship is an infamously difficult league to prosper in and depart from and this season that trend is set to continue with the new arrivals of Wigan, QPR and Reading, three sides flush with parachute payments looking to make this a temporary drop-in.
Bolton, Watford and Forest meanwhile will be determined to take that extra step into the Premier promised land.
It’s sure to be a campaign of prolonged drama but teams aside who are the individuals who are most likely to become pivotal protagonists? Who has the ability to turn the promise of glory into reality?
Wes Morgan (above) – Wes has attracted a lot of attention at the start of the transfer, which is hardly surprising considering the season he has just had. The former Nottingham Forest man is one of the best defenders in the championship; not only is his physical stature more than a handful for strikers and at set pieces but also his athletic ability is incredible with unquestionable strength and agility. Definitely one to watch in the next season.
Johnny Russell– Derby’s new man joined from Dundee United in the summer. He has an impressive goal record with 31 goals in 102 games since he started his career, a lot of people see this as irrelevant as he was playing in the SPL, but I think the quality isn’t too far between the championship and SPL, also he wasn’t playing for Celtic at the time so he was not playing with the best players around him. Also only at 23 years old he could develop to be even better.
Adel Taarabt– I can’t even begin to think how frustrating it must be to be a QPR fan with a player of Adel’s unquestionable talent, and for 50% of the time for it to go to waste. He made the championship his league in the season QPR went up. I think he can raise his game, if he plays as part of a team and realises how good he can be, he will succeed.
Jordan Rhodes– Arguably the difference between Blackburn staying up and being relegated last year. His goalscoring record for someone playing in a team which wasn’t up to the standard it should have been last year was astounding 27 goals in 43 games is a massive achievement. I believe that this man can fire blackburn to success.
James McCarthy– A central midfielder that for any young player should be a role model. This young man can pass the ball, split teams apart and dictate the tempo of games all by himself. Wigan must keep him at the club if they have getting their team back into the premier league as there priority, however whether he stays remains to be seen.
Sam Byram– One of the two standout breakout players of 2012 along with Will Hughes of Derby. His overall game for a 19 year old is so mature and he plays as if he has spent 5-10 years at the highest level. A full back that can get the balance right of decision making on whether to attack and support, or sit and defend is a rare commodity, and he has this ability spot on.
Mustapha Carayol– One of the value signing’s of last year, signed from Bristol Rovers in League 2. Due to injuries last season he was hampered and this stalled his progress. I believe that as long as he is fit for next season he can make a big impact on Middlesbrough’s season.
Marek Stech– Yeovil were written off last season completely as one of the favourite’s to be relegated from league 1, and I can imagine that this will be a similar case in the championship. However the 6ft 3 goalkeeper showed his class not only in the play off final, but throughout the season. A solid team always starts from the back, and with this goalkeeper they certainly have a solid foundation.