The English Championship is known for being such a competitive league and very difficult to play in. Every year we see Premier League clubs tracking or signing players from the league and when January hits that is when the Championship clubs really worry. So who will be the standout performers in the division?
At 22 the Middlesbrough centre half has a long career to look forward to. Gibson has been a Boro lad from the age of 12 and has represented the England youth level at every year group. He showed his talent to a larger audience during the recent under 21 European Championships having been one of the better performers for England. Last season he formed a formidable partnership with Kalas who has returned to the club again from Chelsea on loan, and these 2 lads will form the ultimate platform for Middlesbrough to mount a serious promotion charge. Ben has a tremendous character and leadership skills which have him no doubt being a future Middlesbrough captain. This season could and should be the clubs year and this could also be the year that Gibson becomes highly sought after. With many Premier league clubs looking for English talent he will no doubt appear on the radar. With a big season ahead I predict big things for the lad and the club and Ben will be integral for this to happen.
Leeds United are famous for bringing through their youth and Alex Mowatt is the next in line for this. At 20 Mowatt is a future star but right now he is the hopes to change Leeds fortune, having already made 70 appearances for Leeds he is the integral part of Uwe Rosler’s team and was rewarded with the number 10 shirt this season. Normally a centre midfielder Alex can play wide left or just off the front man, and really has an eye for goal, scoring 10 goals in his professional career so far. His ambition is fantastic and his loyalty to Leeds is admirable but surely he will need to move elsewhere to fulfil his ambitions. A current England under 20 international this season should see him make his step up to the England under 21s and this should really push Alex on even more. Would expect even more from Mowatt this season after a great season last time out and push Leeds closer to a playoff push. Everton and Newcastle were reportedly watching the lad recently, so he has already attracted attention, but focus on his football and he should have a fantastic season.
Now 23 Tom Ince really needs to live up to all the hype at this stage of his career. Now at Derby he will be given the opportunity to really push on this season and get the club promoted. Considered unlucky at Hull last season being sent on loan to Derby done him the world of good scoring 11 goals in 18 appearances for the club. Tom has had many clubs at such a young age so to find a fit is really what he needs as his ability could really take him to the top of the game. Representing England at every youth level his ambition to play for national side will drive him to the top. A big season ahead and Tom’s wan’ of a left foot is so dangerous, his pace and trickery will make it so hard for championship defenders to cope with him. Predicting big things for Tom this season, could easily win player of the season with his ability.
At 22 Benik Afobe is one of the most prolific strikers not just in the Championship but in England. 32 goals last season for the Wolves hit-man is a great return, granted 19 were for MK Dons in league 1. His stint with England under 21’s at the Euro’s during the season will give him even more confidence. Can he repeat his return of last season? Answer is no doubt; he has such a predator instinct in the 18 yard box that just can’t be taught. Not considered good enough by Arsene Wenger could really be the motivation for the lad, he continues the way he is there is no doubt he will be a Premier League striker and a striker for the National side. Wolves have a very strong looking attacking third again this season so expect Benik to keep banging in the goals this season.
Phillip Hoffmann arrived at Brentford for a high fee 3.5 million, the early promise in his career seems to have faded out after unsuccessful loan spells in Germany with various clubs. His lack of goals especially for Kaiserslautern last season was considered a flop, but his return playing for Germany under 21s is impressive with 9 goals in 17 appearances. He has many strengths, he is a strong lad and possess a very aerial presence, his brain to move into different areas in the attacking third gives him an edge on other strikers. This will be considered a risk predicting a big year for him but when you see ability that he has the belief that he will come good has to be there. Brentford are a fresh team this season, a lot of changes at the club including a different style in the final third, expect Hofmann to be amongst the goals this season. The ability is there now time to shine for the German frontman.
Other names to watch out for this season:
Morgan Fox- the Charlton left back is 21 and has been described by some at the club as the best natural full back they have seen. Currently playing for Wales under 21s he is expected to push for the national side this season. This will be his first full season starting for the club so big things are expected.
Demarai Gray- at 19 the Birmingham wide man has made 49 appearances already. He has caught the attention of many clubs in the Premier League. Playing in an average Birmingham side he will thrive again this year which will only enhance his reputation.
Teddy Bishop- another one at 19 whom this time at Ipswich made 30 league appearances last season. An influential figure in the team he will be the catalyst again if Ipswich are to push for playoffs….expect him to leave the club at some stage but for now Mick McCarthy will do everything he can to keep him.
Zac Clough- the Bolton striker will be hoping to stay injury free this year. Clough showed maturity beyond his 20 years last season scoring 6 goals in 10 games for the struggling club. His enthusiasm and smart movements will generate goals and build his reputation even more.
Chuba Akpom- the Hull loanee has started well for new club and should really enhance his chances of playing time for Arsenal this season. 2 goals in 2 appearances is a steady start for the 19 year old. Signing for Arsenal when he was 6 his aspirations understandably are to play regularly for Arsenal, but if he makes the most out of this loan with hull he could make it impossible for Wenger not to give him a real chance. Watch out for this lad.