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TT's Top 10 Championship stars, 2011

Tuesday 25th January 2011 11:48

McGugan and Taarabt: Two of the Championship's finest

McGugan and Taarabt: Two of the Championship's finest

TEAMtalk's James Marshment explains why there is life beyond the Premier League with his countdown of the top 10 players in the Championship.

England's top tier quite rightly dominates most of our attention in TEAMtalk Towers and there is no doubting our product is one of the best and most entertaining leagues in world football.

But for those of you who support a team in the Championship, you'll be fully aware of the plethora of talent busting a gut to help their respected teams also reach the promised land.

Use the story comments box below to let me know your thoughts and your top 10, but please note this is merely my own humble opinion, and I offer no apologies if your favourite doesn't quite make the cut.

10 - Steve Morison, Millwall: Snapped up for £130,000 from Stevenage, Morison is an 'old-school footballer for the modern generation'. With great aerial ability and a bustling style, Morison has made the step up from non-league to first League One and now the Championship with absolute ease.

Already the subject of interest from Fulham, Morison is, alongside Swindon's Charlie Austin, the best bargain-buy signing outside the Premier League over the last couple of seasons.

9 - Jay Bothroyd, Cardiff: Fourteen goals in 18 starts this season have not only catapulted Bothoyd into the England reckoning, but have also made him one of the Championship's most sought-after players.

Something of a late developer, Bothroyd has now matured into the powerful frontrunner with an explosive shot and more than capable of plying his trade at a higher level.

8 - Andy King, Leicester: Under Sven, the Foxes are probably the most improved team in the Championship and look a decent bet at 9/2 to win promotion to me.

Consistent all season-long, the 22-year-old attacking midfielder has already been the subject of a failed bid from Aston Villa and is quickly earning many new admirers with his explosive shooting and eye for a goal.

7 - Darren Pratley, Swansea: The Swans have a great shout at promotion this term and the driving force of Pratley in the centre of the park has been key to that push.

His leggy style may sometimes look ungainly, but he's a genuine box-to-box performer who would not look out of place at a higher level.

6 - Kieren Westwood, Coventry: Probably regarded as the best goalkeeper outside the Premier League, it remains to be seen just how long Coventry can hang on to their prized asset.

Snapped up from Carlisle in the summer of 2008 (when yours truly was advocating Leeds to swoop for him), Westwood is now valued in the £5million bracket and has reportedly been the subject of a failed bid from Spurs.

Shay Given's natural successor in the Republic of Ireland side and a nailed-on future Prem star.

5 - Russell Martin, Norwich: Perhaps a somewhat surprising choice to anyone outside East Anglia, Brighton-born Martin has been a revelation for the Canaries this season.

Solid in the tackle and seemingly unflappable under pressure, Martin has added a new dimension to his game this term with his forays down the right, which has helped him to four goals and the nickname the "Norfolk Cafu".

4 - Robert Snodgrass, Leeds: You know you are special when you are invited for a trial with Barcelona as a teenager, Snodgrass is probably the most talented player on Leeds United's books since their demotion from the Premier League.

Equally comfortable on his left or right foot, Snodgrass has it all in his locker and it's no fluke that Leeds' current run on one defeat in 16 league games has coincided with his return from an early-season injury.

If he was a yard quicker he'd already have been signed by a Premier League side, but what he lacks in pace he more than makes up for in vision and speed of thought.

3 - Scott Sinclair, Swansea: Despite only being 21, Sinclair has had something of a nomadic career before finally settling down and fulfilling his potential at Swansea.

Blessed with natural ability, the fleet-footed Sinclair has added goals to his game this year as 17 strikes from 28 games clearly testifies and it's only a matter of time before the former Chelsea hope finds himself back in the top flight.

2 - Lewis McGugan, Nottingham Forest: With 10 goals to his name already, attacking midfielder McGugan is already enjoying his most productive season to date. Incapable, it seems of scoring anything other than the spectacular, McGugan can probably expect a sizeable chunk of his efforts to make the cut for Championship Goal of the Season this term.

If he can lead Forest back into the Promised Land, I don't think a senior England call-up will be too far away.

1 - Adel Taarabt, QPR: Quite simply, the Championship's best player this season and the main reason why Rangers are currently top of the tree. Blessed with a mesmerising touch, a fierce shot and eye for a pass, Taarabt could comfortably hold his own in the Premier League. Tottenham's loss is very much QPR's gain and I wonder if Harry Redknapp now regrets his sale to the R's for the bargain £600,000 fee? T'riffic!

Unfortunate not to make the cut: Jimmy Kebe, John Brayford, Ben Turner, Danny Graham, Kasper Schmeichel, David Norris, Kris Commons, Chris Eagles, Marvin Sordell and Andrew Crofts.



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