As the Championship draws towards its conclusion the ‘most unpredictable league in the world’ has defied its usual topsy-turvy stereotype.
Indeed, the top two spots have already been filled – by Leicester City and Burnley – and the expected thrilling finale may have lost some of its usual excitement.
That said, it hasn’t detracted from the quality of the division. There has still been a number of stand-out performers in England’s second tier and in this piece we take a look at the top five.
1) Danny Ings
The 21-year-old front man has been a revelation this season for Burnley and a key player in their promotion to the Premier League. His strike-partnership with Sam Vokes provided Sean Dyche’s side with the most feared and potent front-line in the division and was the key to their success this campaign.
His goal-scoring form wasn’t necessarily expected, either. Although he had showed signs of promise in previous seasons, it hasn’t been until this season that he has truly flourished. Ings has scored 25 goals in 43 appearances and become one of the hottest young English prospects – so much so that he has even been tipped for a place in Roy Hodgson’s World Cup squad by some pundits.
That particular feat may be a little too ambitious, but he will certainly be taking on top level defences next season and he is likely to impress.
2) Ross McCormack
This season hasn’t been one to remember for Leeds fans. Despite an encouraging start, their campaign has drifted towards mediocrity after a tumultuous and well publicised takeover bid from Massimo Cellino seemed to disrupt any momentum they had.
At one point it appeared the Italian had sacked Brian McDermott, only for the manager to be put back in charge, but since then things at Elland Road have not been the same.
On the pitch, things haven’t been great either and there is a distinct lack of quality throughout the Leeds side at the moment, meaning heavy investment may be required in the summer.
There has been one bright spark in the darkness, though: Ross McCormack. The striker has had a brilliant season, despite not receiving the service that he may have been expecting from teammates, and still leads the Championship scoring charts with 28 goals.
3) Craig Bryson
If you speak to most pundits about Derby County’s central midfielders at the moment they will immediately think of the prodigiously talented Will Hughes. However, the England under-21 international has been matched, and perhaps even surpassed, by his teammate this season.
Craig Bryson has been a huge success and one of the major reasons behind the Rams’ up-turn in form under Steve McLaren. Allowed the freedom to make lung-busting, late runs into the box by his manager, the midfielder, blessed with boundless energy, has thrived and become a pivotal player in the former England manager’s side. He has chipped in with 16 league goals, which included a hat-trick against Nottingham Forest, and will be a key figure if Derby are to achieve promotion through the playoffs.
4) Jordan Rhodes
It is becoming increasingly evident that Jordan Rhodes is simply too good for the Championship. Over the last two seasons he has become accustomed to finding his name on the score sheet and 51 goals in 87 Blackburn Rovers appearances is testament to this.
His record is made even more remarkable as since his departure from Huddersfield Town, to join Blackburn, in 2012, the Ewood Park side have been stagnating in mid-table and not laying chances on for him.
Many of his goals are self-made and his record of 24 goals this season, which leave him only behind the aforementioned McCormack in the goal-scoring charts, highlights his quality.
5) Jamie Vardy
Much was expected of Jamie Vardy when he made the seven figure move from Fleetwood Town to Leicester in 2012, but he was a disappointment in his first year at Championship level – clearly finding the step up in standard too much to cope with.
This year it could not have been any more different. Leicester have accumulated a total of 96 points on their way to promotion so far and nobody has been more crucial to this success than Vardy.
The 24-year-old striker has notched 15 times in 32 league games this year and been the spearhead behind the majority of The Foxes’ attacks.
Next season he will plying his trade in the Premier League, which isn’t bad for a player who was playing football below the Conference only three years ago.
Are there any players that you think should have made this list?