TFN’s Chris Francis continues his run down of the top 50 players outside the Premier League…
20. Ikechi Anya (Watford)
Right back is not usually the most exciting position (as Jamie Carragher put it, ‘no one grows up wanting to be Gary Neville’), but Anya is a rampaging, marauding, and high energy wing back with tricks, and would certainly add to the attacking threat of a number of Premier League teams.
19. Kieran Trippier (Burnley)The best right back in league? Trippier is a defender first and foremost in a role that has become more and more an attacking weapon. He has developed his game this season to be more of a threat in the opposition half. A vital cog in an excellent Burnley side. 18. Anthony Knockaert (Leicester) A scorer of spectacular goals, Knockaert is also the Football League’s best close dribbler. He ended last season in the worst way possible at Vicarage Road, but his consistency influencing games this season has shown a real strength of character. He operates predominantly from the right wing, cutting in to use his left foot which is capable of the outrageous. Despite missing THAT penalty last season he is excellent from set pieces. 17. Rodolph Austin (Leeds) A holding midfielder with outstanding leadership skills, Austin has been excellent for past two seasons for an improving Leeds side. Brian McDermott’s squad is probably a little short to make this a promotion season, but there are few better in the Championship at breaking up opposition moves, and organising a team while on the pitch. 16. Bakary Sako (Wolves) Sako is a bull of a left-winger. Extremely powerful, with an even stronger left foot, he was one of the few good things about Wolves relegation campaign last season when he was their best player by a stretch. Still very young, and should improve his decision making to see him play at a much higher level than League One. 15. Ross McCormack (Leeds) A tricky outside forward, who has become more and more dangerous over the years through the middle. McCormack has fabulous technique, and this season in particular has seen him drift in and out less as his team work and work rate have improved significantly. 18 goals in all competitions this season already. 14. Liam Bridcutt (Brighton) Bridcutt was the hub around which Gus Poyet built his smooth, short-passing, promotion chasing side last year. He is a neat and tidy player who would appear to have the technique, composure and speed of thought to be able to do exactly the same in the much faster top flight. Rumours abound that he will rejoin Poyet at Sunderland. 13. Nick Powell (Wigan – on loan from Man Utd) There is a need at Old Trafford currently for a composed attacking midfielder with the ability to get goals. Powell is doing his best on loan at Wigan to prove that he perhaps deserves some game time for United next season. Classy on the ball, with the confidence and vision to pick a pass, and able to strike a ball cleanly from distance he is proving why he was taken from Crewe two seasons ago. 12. Henri Lansbury (Nottingham Forest) The former Arsenal youngster is a very likeable footballer. He plays positively for an attacking team that as usual for a Billy Davies side is also mixing it physically week by week. He is disciplined enough to play every game and scores his fair share of goals – he scored 5 in 16 for England U21s previously. Has the potential to take his game to the next level. 11. Joey Barton (QPR) Apparently he would not be playing in The Championship this season. Yet, here he is, at the heart of the title favourite’s midfield. He is every bit as bloody minded, determined and forceful as he has ever been, but he is still a divisive figure, as he remains capable of brilliance and absurdity. A real force in this league – but it’s never been his capability that’s been the issue. Needs to now show some real leadership as the end of a Championship is often decided on who can hold their nerve as the pressure cranks up. @mckrisp; @The_False_Nine