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The Best of the Rest: Championship XI


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Instead of David Jones sa the manager, I would prefer either of Paul Simpson or Billy Davies.


Surprised that Michael Chopra isn't even named as a sub. Anyway, just for your interest (and reference)




The Best of the Rest: Championship XI


The transfer window is fast approaching and a number of Premiership clubs will be looking down a division to bolster their squads.


Here is a hypothetical concoction of the Championship's crème de la crème.


There is a fair mix of players: some of whom have decent Premiership credentials and some who are brimful of promise.


We think that this squad could survive a season in the Premiership, indeed the team is perhaps better than Sheffield United, Watford and Charlton (although that isn't saying very much).


Starting at the back, it is generally thought that goalkeepers are in their prime in their mid to late 30's. Therefore 35-year old Northern Ireland stopper Maik Taylor finds himself between the sticks.


Taylor is a class act for Birmingham and was really too good to be relegated in the last campaign, but Steve Bruce proved how bad a manager he is by getting a star-studded Birmingham squad relegated.


The central defensive partnership both have links to Arsenal. Arsene Wenger deemed Matthew Upson not good enough for the Gunners. The mind boggles as to how Pascal Cygan donned the famous North London shirt when Uposn was sold to Brum.


Partnering Upson in defence is young West Brom defender Curtis Davies who Wenger is reportedly tracking. That Wenger likes the former Luton man speaks volumes for his potential.


Colchester's Greg Halford gains selection at right back. England U/21 manager Peter Taylor played Halford up front proving how Taylor is also a rubbish manager. We prefer him on the right side of defence.


At left back is 17-year old prodigy Gareth Bale. Bale is the youngest ever player to be capped by Wales. Sure, Wales has a small population which obviously worked in the lad's favour but he is in the habit of scoring vital goals for the Saints. He has netted on five occasions this season.


Premiership midfields can be like an underground Thai kickboxing tournament. The species that most often inhabits this area is the thuggis horriblis. Roy Keane was a good example of this, even if he is now extinct.


As such we opt for Lee Hendrie in central midfield. The former Villian is hard enough to survive in the Prem as he has plently of experience on the streets of Birmingham. Oh and he is a half-decent footballer too.


Partnering him in the axis of evil is Preston's Paul McKenna whose work-rate and grit are vital in those difficult away fixtures to Bolton.


The creativity from the right side of midfield comes from Zoltan Gera. His name may sound like an alien planet but the Hungarian fits right into the galaxy of Championship stars. He was attracting interest from Liverpool not so long ago.


Giles Barnes cracks the nod on the left of midfield but with licence to roam. The Derby County ace is allegedly a £1m transfer target for Newcastle United. That means he must be good. Links to Liverpool and Everton as well as five goals this season affirm his standing as one of the hottest prospects this side of the Premier League.


There is great competition up-front with Jamie Cureton, Gregor Raziak, and Nicklas Bendtner all in the running. But after 17 mammoth rounds of rock/paper/scissors we have decided on Canaries high-flyer Robbie Earnshaw and another Brum Gary McSheffrey as the strike partnership.


'Earnie' as his mocking team-mates call him, has a good strike rate at all levels of the game. He took the scenic route to Norfolk. Born in Zambia he joined Norwich via Cardiff, Morton and West Brom. One vital attribute he has is pace and his 14 goals this season prove that he is more than a sprint specialist.


Joining him up-front is former Coventry man McSheffrey who has scored 10 times for Birmingham. This has made Steve Bruce look like a better manager than he is but McSheffrey is finally reaching the potential he was once touted to reach.


Joining Cureton, Raziak and Bendtner on the bench are Nash, Purse, Higginbotham and Koumas.


Dave Jones has earned his managerial wings by talking a mediocre Cardiff City to fifth in the league and he is given the Championship XI hotseat.


Now for some peculiarites. The squad is drawn almost exclusively from the top-eight Championship teams and there are three Welshmen in the side.


Many of these players will probably be targets for Premiership clubs in the transfer window. However, it is in the best interest of those who play for Birmingham, Southampton and Preston to stay put should the likes of Sheffield United, Middelsbrough and Charlton come looking.


Especially if they want to be playing Premiership football next season.


Richard Ferraris

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