The PFA has announced it’s Championship team of the year.
However, the excitement that the Championship has and continues to deliver this year has demonstrated that the second tier has a glut of talented players, and while some may be on loan from the top flight, we believe this XI would give the PFA boys a run for their money.
The England U21 international enjoyed an impressive season for Middlesbrough despite a disappointing showing from the Teessiders. Steele picked up the club’s Player of the Year and Young Player of the Year awards after finding a level of unrivalled consistency in a Boro shirt.
A snip at just £240,000 from Tranmere in 2011, the 23-year-old has stood out as the only ever-present for a struggling Ipswich Town side and is already attracting interest from the Premier League. A good tackler with pace to burn, Cresswell also demonstrated his shooting skills with a goal-of-the-season contender against Palace in April. One to watch for the future.
Craig Dawson (Captain)
The West Brom centre back joined Bolton on loan at the end of January and went on to almost single-handedly alter the Trotters’ season. The 23-year-old scored four crucial goals in his 16-game spell as Dougie Freedman’s men went on to lose just three of those ties. The Whites won all eight of Dawson’s matches at the Reebok, keeping five clean sheets in the process.
The former Manchester United youngster has become a pivotal part of the Hull defence, making 43 appearances in their ascension to the Premier League. The 5ft 10” stopper played more times than any other Hull player and played a key role in Bruce’s unusual 3-5-2 formation.
The Sunderland loanee proved a crucial cog in Hull’s promotion machine in his two separate spells throughout the campaign. The Egyptian international made 40 appearances and notched four goals, proving a marauding presence down The Tigers’ right-hand side. His energetic and consistent displays earned him the club’s Player of the Year gong.
Eagles is arguably the first name on Dougie Freedman’s team sheet these days, with the former Manchester United man missing just three games this season. His 12 goals and 13 assists from midfield were key in Bolton’s late play-off push and Freedman may need to fend off various suitors this summer to mount another promotion charge next year.
The 18-year-old Chelsea midfielder has enjoyed a stellar campaign on loan at Watford and was a key part of their promotion push. Playing 39 times and chipping in with five goals, two of which at least are contenders for goal of the season. Should he help secure play-off glory for the Hornets, boss Gianfranco Zola will be even more determined to capture him on a permanent basis.
While attacking players often steal the limelight, Bridcutt was named Brighton’s Player of the Year in 2012 and continued his form throughout this campaign. A string of commanding defensive displays at the heart of midfield have earned the Seagulls a play-off berth and with manager Gus Poyet claiming his man is good enough for Real Madrid, top flight football could be on the horizon come what may.
Abdi is unfortunate not have been given the nod by the PFA after a string of dazzling displays proved him to be one of the best all-round midfielders in the league. The Udinese loanee failed to score in 42 games for the Italians but has added goals to his game at Watford, netting 12 times to go with his 13 assists. The Hornets’ Player of the Year and rightly so.
The Burnley forward has been accused of offering little more than goals to his teams. But when you score at the rate this former bricklayer does then what’s the problem? The 23-year-old is the league’s third-top scorer with 24 strikes despite playing five games fewer than table topper Glen Murray and eight less than Blackburn’s Jordan Rhodes. With 178 career goals from 277 games it’s obvious why Austin is attracting Premier League glances.
Despite smashing 73 goals in 124 games for Huddersfield, many criticised the £8 million Blackburn shelled out for Rhodes. However, the Scotland international was quickly among the goals for Rovers and with 28 strikes from 45 appearances this term the 23-year-old can consider himself unlucky not to have made the PFA XI.