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Championship Top Men: Fantastic four

Wednesday 7th November 2012 12:41

Charlie Austin: The most prolific marksman in Europe

Charlie Austin: The most prolific marksman in Europe

Burnley and Crystal Palace provide four players in TEAMtalk's Championship Top Men, our Elite XI from the latest action in the second tier.

Once a week, TEAMtalk will select our premium XI from England's second tier, explain our selections and then invite you - our loyal army of readers - to pick your team of top men. We're looking for the players who caught your eye with dazzling displays or powerful performances in the second tier.

You can choose any formation and there's no limit on how many players you can pick from each team - so have a think, then get involved.

Championship Top Men (4-3-3) : Grant; Ricketts, Woodgate, Delaney, O'Connor; Aluko, Jackson, Trotter; Murray, Austin, Novak.

Goalkeeper:

Lee Grant - Burnley: Sean Dyche has settled quickly into his new post as Burnley boss, with back-to-back victories carrying the Clarets to within a point of the play-off places. A productive week for the men from Turf Moor saw them overcome Wolves and Leeds on home soil, with Grant and his defensive colleagues picking up two clean sheets.

Defenders:

Sam Ricketts - Bolton Wanderers: It has also been a productive start to life in new surroundings for Dougie Freedman, who remains unbeaten as Bolton manager. The Trotters added four points to their tally this week, seeing off high-flying Cardiff and holding Leicester. Ricketts helped to shut out the Foxes and laid on David Ngog's winner as the Bluebirds were brought back down to earth with a bump on Saturday.

Jonathan Woodgate - Middlesbrough: Woodgate finally opened his Middlesbrough goal account on Saturday, with the centre-half having waited over 50 games spread across two spells to find the target. The former England international nodded home during a 4-1 victory over Charlton, before being rested in Boro's goalless draw with Nottingham Forest.

Damien Delaney - Crystal Palace: Ian Holloway's honeymoon period in the Crystal Palace hot-seat could not have gone any better, with two convincing victories seeing the Eagles to the top of the Championship table. Blackburn and Ipswich were seen off with the minimum of fuss, with Palace helping themselves to seven goals and Delaney and co keeping back-to-back clean sheets.

James O'Connor - Derby County: O'Connor has hardly been prolific throughout his career, but that is no surprise given that he is a full-back. He was, however, able to wheel away in celebration after finding the target in Derby's 2-0 victory over Barnsley on Tuesday. The Rams also saw off Blackpool at the weekend to fire themselves back into the promotion picture.

Midfielders:

Sone Aluko - Hull City: Aluko is looking like a shrewd piece of transfer business for Hull City, with the Tigers having snapped the winger up from Rangers on the back of their much-publicised financial troubles. Aluko has netted six times already this season, with his last two goals coming in Hull's last two outings. He saw Steve Bruce's men, who now sit fourth, to a 1-0 victory over Barnsley on Saturday, before breaking the deadlock in a 2-1 midweek win over Wolves.

Johnnie Jackson - Charlton Athletic: Charlton edged five points clear of the drop zone on Tuesday courtesy of a thrilling 5-4 victory over Cardiff. The Addicks trailed 2-0 early on, but hit back to lead 5-2 before the Bluebirds staged a late rally. Jackson played a pivotal role in turning the tie on its head, with his first half double hauling Charlton back into a game which appeared to be slipping away from them.

Liam Trotter - Millwall: Millwall found themselves languishing inside the drop zone at the end of September, but eight games later they are knocking on the door of the top half. The Lions have embarked on an impressive unbeaten run, and Trotter has shone for them throughout. He was among the goals again at the weekend as Millwall stunned Nottingham Forest 4-1 at the City Ground.

Strikers:

Glenn Murray - Crystal Palace: A memorable four days in front of goal for Murray means his return for the season now stands at a goal a game. The Crystal Palace striker has netted 13 times in as many appearances and will be considered the man most capable of leading the Eagles' promotion push. Murray bagged a brace, while also missing a penalty, as Palace beat Blackburn on Saturday, before getting his hands on the match ball as Holloway's men swept aside Ipswich on Tuesday.

Charlie Austin - Burnley: According to the stats, Austin is the most prolific marksman in European football at the moment. Not even Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi can match the Burnley striker's early-season record. Austin, remarkably, has already reached the 20-goal mark for the season - in just 17 appearances. The hot-shot forward helped Burnley to a 2-0 victory over Wolves at the weekend, before grabbing the only goal of the game against Leeds in midweek.

Lee Novak - Huddersfield Town: Only goal difference is keeping Huddersfield out of the play-off places at present, with four points taken from their last two fixtures. Victory over Bristol City at the John Smith's Stadium may have been expected, but the Terriers displayed commendable battling qualities against Blackburn on Tuesday as Jordan Rhodes threatened to return and haunt his former employers. Novak bagged a brace against Rovers, including a last-minute leveller, to secure a share of the spoils.

So that's our team, now pick yours!

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