Championship Top Men: Going for goals

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Here’s TEAMtalk’s latest top XI from England’s second tier. We explain our selections and then invite you 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 two most recent rounds of Championship action.

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.

TEAMtalk’s Top Men (4-3-3): Steele; Upson, Caddis, Dervite, Clarke; Dobbie, Bryson, Eagles; Beckford, Deeney, Barnes.

Luke Steele – Barnsley

Barnsley earned a valuable point in their battle to avoid relegation, drawing 0-0 away at play-off chasing Nottingham Forest. Barnsley keeper Luke Steele (along with the help of the woodwork) had a fine afternoon and he needed too as the away side rarely troubled Steele’s opposite number, Karl Darlow, in the Forest goal.

Although still in the bottom three, Barnsley fans will take heart from Steele’s performance and hope that if he can remain in this form for the remainder of the season the South Yorkshire club might well climb clear of trouble.

Matthew Upson – Brighton

Ashley Barnes will receive all the plaudits on his return to the starting XI but former England international Matthew Upson was equally impressive in defence during Brighton’s 6-1 demolition of Blackpool on Saturday.

The veteran defender was on cruise control for most of the game and capped an assured performance with a goal halfway through the first half. Upson bundled home Brighton’s second after Andrea Orlandi’s excellent cross was headed back across goal by Inigo Calderon.

Paul Caddis – Birmingham

Birmingham beat Leeds 1-0 at St Andrew’s on Saturday and the result takes them up to 10th spot in the Championship. It was always going to be a tough test against an in-form Leeds side who had improved under new manager Brian McDermott.

Defender Paul Caddis, on loan from Swindon Town, was the pick of the Birmingham defenders ensuring that Leeds’ attacking threat was kept to a minimum while at the other end he was willing to get forward at every available opportunity to help his forwards out.

Dorian Dervite – Charlton

Charlton overcame Wolves 2-1 at The Valley on Saturday. The result means that Charlton have now gained 14 points from the last 18 available to them. Chris Powell’s men sit five points adrift of the play-off places and their recent run of form is not only down to their excellent scoring form but also their ability at the back to shut sides out.

Defender Dorian Dervite highlighted this on Saturday defending well at one end but also scoring the all important opening goal for his side poking in from close range following a scramble.

Peter Clarke – Huddersfield Town

Huddersfield will need all the experience they can get if they are to remain in the Championship next season. And, after couple of games being not quite at his best, captain Peter Clarke returned to fine form to lead his side to a 3-0 victory at home against Millwall on Saturday.

Clarke was recently to blame for his sides defeat at Bolton making an error which led to Chris Eagles’ goal. But, the centre-half showed great character on Saturday to put recent disappointments behind him, marshalling the home back four to a rare clean sheet and a vital win.

Stephen Dobbie – Crystal Palace

Crystal Palace’s struggle towards securing a play-off place continued during their 2-2 home draw against Leicester City on Saturday. Palace need five points from their remaining three games to secure a play-off place but had failed to score in their previous five matches going into Saturday’s game. It was midfielder Stephen Dobbie who looked the most threatening during the encounter and it was no surprise when he scored for Palace on 67 minutes by converting Glenn Murray’s lay-off.

Ian Holloway will be relieved that his side have found their scoring boots and will want more of the same from Dobbie in the coming weeks.

Craig Bryson – Derby

Derby heaped more misery on relegation-threatened Peterborough United and ensured that they will be playing Championship football next season with a 3-1 home win. Midfielder Craig Bryson lashed home his fifth goal of the season after Jamie Ward and Connor Sammon had combined well down the left. Bryson had been missing the week before at Barnsley due to injury and he started most of Derby’s attacking play at the weekend particularly in a dominant first period.

The result means that Derby fans can enjoy the remaining games against Blackpool and Millwall knowing that they won’t be relegated this season.

Chris Eagles – Bolton

Bolton completed their eighth successive home win against 10-man Middlesbrough on Saturday and with it moved into the Championship play-off places. Bolton’s fine recent form is partly due to midfielder Chris Eagles’ impressive run of displays.

And it was the former Manchester United man who got the ball rolling again scoring the first in his sides 2-1 win. Eagles linked up well with Chung-Yong Lee and slotted in his 10th goal of the season. Bolton for promotion? On this form you wouldn’t bet against them.

Jermaine Beckford – Huddersfield Town

Jermaine Beckford struck another double for Huddersfield Town as they climbed out of the Championship bottom three. The former Leeds United striker followed up his two goals against Wolves with a match winning display against Millwall. The pick of his recent strikes came on Saturday as he chipped David Forde in the Millwall goal from an acute angle.

Huddersfield Town fans will hope that the strikers good run continues so that they can cement their place in the Championship next season.

Troy Deeney – Watford

Watford kept alive their hopes of an automatic promotion place with a 4-0 thrashing of 10-man Blackburn at Vicarage road. Four second-half goals rubber stamped the win including a brace inside 10 minutes from frontman Troy Deeney. Deeney was at his predatory best and made sure his side closed the gap on second-placed Hull to just four points. Watford manager Gianfranco Zola will want Deeney to continue his form especially if Watford are required to push for promotion to the Premier League via the play-offs.

Ashley Barnes – Brighton

Ashley Barnes scored twice on his return from a seven-game ban as Brighton battered Blackpool and with it moved to within one victory of securing a Championship play-off place.

Barnes’ goals weren’t out of the ordinary but he finished off two great Brighton moves to ease the home fans end of season nerves and set them up for what looks likely to be at least two fixtures against another high flying side from the division. Barnes’ double came as a timely reminder to manager Gus Poyet of what might have been, if he hadn’t been suspended for the last two months.