Earlier this week, the Championship announced the Team of the Season for 2016/17, with stars from the division’s top four clubs – Newcastle, Brighton, Huddersfield and Leeds – inevitably dominating proceedings.
But not all four can gain promotion to the top flight this season and after showing such impressive form, it seems inevitable the stars who miss out – and some of the ones who don’t – will catch flirtatious glances from Premier League clubs this summer.
West Ham have a pretty strong record when it comes to recruiting from the Championship, left-back Aaron Cresswell and this season’s current top scorer Michail Antonio being the obvious examples.
So earlier this week we asked Hammers fans to vote for which Team of the Season members they want Slaven Bilic to target during the next transfer window. Here’s a rundown of the top three…
Unquestionably the most technically able central midfielder in the Championship this season, Jonjo Shelvey is probably a little too good for the second tier. He’s been a near permanence in the Newcastle lineup when not suspended this season, notching up four goals and seven assists in 34 league outings. Those rasping cross-field passes remain a defining feature of the former Liverpool and Swansea man’s game, but it’s never been a question of ability with the 25-year-old – the real problem has always been his attitude.
Perhaps a consequence of how a reliable centre-forward has continually evaded the Hammers this season, Leeds target man Chris Wood ranked second in our poll. Indeed, whilst Andy Carroll, Andre Ayew, Simone Zaza, Diafra Sakho and Jonathan Calleri have netted just twelve Premier League goals combined this term, Wood’s amassed 24 in the Championship single-handed, rising to the top of the division’s scoring charts. Tall, powerful and aggressive, he’d be the perfect stand-in for the ever-injured Carroll.
An incredibly strong candidate for the Championship’s Player of the Season award, Anthony Knockaert – who once helped Leicester City reach the top flight – unsurprisingly claimed top spot in our poll. The tricky winger has been nothing short of phenomenal for second-place Brighton this season, notching up 13 goals and seven assists in 37 appearances whilst averaging the fourth-most successful dribbles per match of any player in the division. The Foxes hardly gave him a chance upon their promotion to the top flight but it seems more than likely the Frenchman will be there again next season, whether its with the Seagulls or another club.