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TEAMtalk's Top 10: Championship stars

Wednesday 2nd January 2013 11:21

Wilfried Zaha: Retains place as Championship's top star

Wilfried Zaha: Retains place as Championship's top star

TEAMtalk's James Marshment presents his countdown of the 2012/13 Championship's top 10 players, and contemplates their transfer prospects.

With the transfer window now in full swing, many top-flight managers are looking beyond their Premier League rivals when it comes to bolstering their ranks.

Overseas captures can often be considered either too risky or too expensive, and whilst the best of the young talent in England's second tier can still come with a premium price tag, there is often better value for money when it comes to the Championship.

Last season's shortlist saw an impressive seven of the 10 plucked to play in the Promised Land of the Premier League - a fate equalled by the class of 2010/11 , who also saw seven stars quickly launched into the top-flight limelight.

Twelve months on, England's second tier continues to boast a plethora of talent - all busting a gut to help their respected teams reach the elite.

Use the 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 - Charlie Austin, Burnley:

Has been in unstoppable form this season, the Clarets will do well to hang on to their 23-goal top scorer beyond this season. Austin, who has been compared to former England striker Alan Shearer, has risen rapidly up the football league ladder having made his name with his goalscoring exploits at Poole Town just four seasons ago. Still, only 23, Austin's better years lie ahead of him.

Estimated current market value £5million

9 - Chris Wood, Leicester:

Signed for a bargain £2million at the start of this month's transfer window, New Zealander Wood, 21, is already established as one of the best strikers outside the top flight.

Never really handed a chance at former club West Brom, Wood has gone on to establish himself with impressive goal-laden loan spells at Birmingham, and most recently Millwall.

So much so, it came as something of a surprise that the Baggies allowed such a young talent to leave having never really given him a chance.

Current market value £2million

8 - Will Buckley, Brighton:

Labelled a better player than Wilfried Zaha by Gus Poyet, Buckley is an exciting winger, capable of unlocking the meanest of defences.

Whilst Poyet's opinion may not wash with everyone, Buckley remains the Seagulls' best player and one they'll need to hang on to if they are to remain in the hunt for a play-off spot.

Estimated current market value £4million

7 - Matej Vydra, Watford (on loan from Udinese):

Something of an unknown before this season, young Czech forward Vydra has been an absolute revelation for the Hornets this season, as his eight goals from 16 appearances testifies.

His move to Watford was seen as a chance to further his development by Udinese, but his vision and contribution to Watford's push for the play-offs could easily see him recalled by the Friuli-Venezia Giulia club, or even a target of Premier League clubs.

Estimated current market value £4million

6 - Yannick Bolasie, Crystal Palace:

Another winger to catch the eye, Bolasie has been one of the creative drives behind the Eagles' push for promotion this term.

A skilful player, Bolasie often goes under the radar due to the headline-grabbing exploits of Palace team-mate Zaha.

Estimated current market value £4million

5 - Albert Adomah, Bristol City:

A powerful and industrius winger, Adomah, who has already been capped by Ghana, is the one bright light in what is proving another tough season for Bristol City.

The Robins, not only battling to save their Championship lives, are also struggling to balance the books, so will have to think carefully about when best to cash in on their prized asset.

Estimated current market value £4million

4 - Jack Butland, Birmingham:

Needs no introduction having this season become England's youngest ever goalkeeper at the age of 19 and is seen by many as Joe Hart's most likely challenger in the years to come.

A confident and assured shot-stopper, Butland will most likely leave Blues sooner rather than later and was reportedly the subject of a failed £6million bid from Southampton during the summer.

Not quite worth the £18million that Lee Clark claimed he was worth, Butland, nonetheless, will likely equal the record transfer fee received by Blues when Jermaine Pennant left for Liverpool in 2006.

Estimated current market value £6.5million

3 - Tom Ince, Blackpool:

While many question Kenny Dalglish's wisdom in forking out £35million for Andy Carroll, for me, his decision to spend £18million on Jordan Henderson and allow Ince to leave Liverpool for a nomimal fee was even more baffling.

Skilful, pacy, direct and strong on the ball, Ince is widely expected to seal a return move to Anfield for an eye-watering £6million fee - cash which the Reds could so easily have avoided had Ince just been given his chance first time around.

Estimated current market value £6million

2 - Will Hughes, Derby:

Oddly, despite still being seen as something of an unknown by the masses, Hughes deservedly takes his place in second spot of our Top 10 Championship talents.

Hughes, still only 17, is probably England's most gifted central midfielder since Paul Gascoigne and if you've not yet seen this boy play, then he's well worth checking out.

Regularly scouted by Arsenal, Hughes has already been capped at Under-21 level and it surely won't be too long before both a move to the Premier League, and senior recognition follows.

Estimated current market value £6million

1 - Wilfried Zaha, Crystal Palace:

A non-mover from top spot, Zaha has now established himself as the best player outside the Premier League.

Has matured vastly from last season's ranking at #1, Zaha now counts Barcelona among those reportedly tracking his signature.

Unfortunate not to make the cut: Craig Noone, Joe Mason and Mark Hudson (Cardiff), Bakary Sakho (Wolves), Sone Aluko and Robert Koren (Hull), Kieran Tripper (Burnley), Sam Byram (Leeds), Anthony Knockaert (Leicester), Nathan Redmond (Birmingham), Glenn Murray (Crystal Palace), Chris Eagles (Bolton), George Friend and Jason Steele (Middlesbrough).

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