Championship Golden Boot race: 15 stars to keep an eye on in the 2019/20 season, including Leeds and Fulham strikers

30 Jul

As the final champagne bottle was popped at Wembley after Aston Villa’s dramatic play-off final win over Derby County, the attention of fans across the country turned to the return of the Championship.

After what feels like an eternity, Luton Town and Middlesbrough will finally kick off the new EFL season on Friday.

The Championship returns on August 2 with Luton against Middlesbrough
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After Norwich City, Sheffield United and Villa secured safe passage to the promised land of the Premier League, the scrap for promotion begins once again.

24 teams will slog it out over the course of nine months to earn their right to play in the top flight, with every club believing they stand a chance.

However, in order to get there, history and statistic suggest teams will need to have the top scorer in the division to do so.

Last season, Teemu Pikki scored 29 goals for Norwich as they ran away with the title, with Tammy Abraham notching 26 and Billy Sharp getting 23 for the Blades.

But who could win the Golden Boot this season? talkSPORT.com has picked out 15 potential candidates to finish as top scorer this season.

Scroll down to see the entire list, in no particular order.

Lewis Grabban – Nottingham Forest

Lewis Grabban of Nottingham Forest
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Forest endured a tough season last time out, with Roy Keane and Martin O’Neill departing this summer after a ninth placed finish.

For Grabban, he still managed to score 16 goals and has shown he is clinical at this level. Provided Sabri Lamouchi can replace Sheffield United-bound Ben Osborn, the 31-year-old could thrive.

Callum Paterson – Cardiff City

Paterson is aiming to fire the Bluebirds back to the Premier League
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The Scotland international struggled for goals in the Premier League last time around, but he managed to bag 10 in the Championship in the Bluebirds’ promotion winning season.

Neil Warnock has just allowed Kenneth Zohore to join rivals West Browmich Albion, meaning even more responsibility will be entrusted to Paterson.

Lyle Taylor – Charlton Athletic

Lyle Taylor helped the Addicks out of the third tier
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The 29-year-old from Greenwich helped get the Addicks out of League One in his debut season and will be desperate to show he can take his clinical form up to the Championship.

Taylor is  is AFC Wimbledon’s record Football League goal scorer with 44 goals, and the Dons’ highest scorer during their Football League era with 55 goals in all competitions – but he could well thrive for Lee Bowyer’s men this time around.

Benik Afobe – Stoke City

The former Arsenal striker is looking to get back amongst the goals
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The DR Congo international may not have enjoyed the success his early career promised, but a run of games and confidence will do Afobe the world of good.

The Potters may have struggled in their first season out of the Premier League since in a decade, but Nathan Jones will surely be entrusting the 26-year-old with firing Stoke back to the promised land.

Jack Marriott – Derby County

Marriott scored in the Play-Off final for the Rams
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Despite being restricted to plenty of substitute appearances from the bench, Marriott managed to find the back of the net on 10 crucial occasions for the Rams.

Phillip Cocu is all too aware of how agonisingly close Derby have come to the Premier League in recent seasons and if he can get Marriott scoring on a regular basis, the Dutch boss could be the man to finally end their play-off nightmare.

Jarrod Bowen – Hull City

The youngster was linked with a move to Tottenham
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Tottenham Hotspur and Newcastle United have both been linked with moves for the 22-year-old forward, who was named in the Championship Team of the Season last time out.

He scored 22 goals in all competitions last season and, given his current trajectory, it would not be surprising if Bowen beats that record and moves on in the next 12 months.

Kenneth Zohore – West Bromwich Albion

Zohore will be hoping to recapture his form from the 2017-18 season
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The youngest player to play in the Danish Superliga at 16, Zohore is a real handful for defenders. His three seasons at Cardiff City in the Championship saw him net 23 times.

Slaven Bilic moved quickly to sign the 25-year-old as soon as he arrived at the Hawthorns, perhaps in the knowledge he can finally fulfil his early potential. Didier Drogba approached the former Copenhagen striker after a Champions League game about joining Chelsea – while he was still 17.

Kemar Roofe – Leeds United

Kemar Roofe in action on pre-season
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The only reason Roofe may struggle to get bundles of goals this season is due to the incessant number of injuries he picks up. The 26-year-old is out for four weeks with an ankle injury, but still has time to catch the early season scoring contenders when he gets back.

Marcelo Bielsa stayed on for another season thankfully at Elland Road and the Argentine clearly sees tremendous potential in the former Oxford United striker.

Ollie McBurnie – Swansea City

McBurnie will be tasked with keeping the Swans in the top flight
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Sheffield United are reportedly interested in the Swansea City striker, and it is clear to see why the Blades want to bring the 23-year-old to Bramall Lane.

The former Leeds United academy star scored 33 goals in the Championship last season and is a clinical poacher who can find the back of the net from anywhere.

Britt Assombalonga – Middlesbrough

The DR Congo international is a handful for defenders
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Jonathon Woodgate will know all about playing about powerful strikers, with the new Boro boss all too aware of Assombalonga’s talents as well.

The 26-year-old has suffered a career-threatening knee injury and come back stronger, meaning Championship defenders will need to be on their guard against the frontman

Patrick Bamford – Leeds United

Bamford has been shaky in pre-season thus far
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Bamford is in danger of falling into the category of players who are ‘Too good for the Championship, not good enough for the Premier League’. Cameron Jerome and Anthony Knockeart are two such players.

The 25-year-old from Nottingham will be desperate to get Leeds into the Championship and show his doubters he is good enough for the top flight.

Karlan Grant – Huddersfield Town

Grant scored a screamer against West Ham United last season
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When Grant moved from Charlton to Huddersfield in the January window, fans were surprised. The Terriers were seemingly on their way down and the Addicks were on the way up.

Now that this situation has actually transpired, Grant will be keen to prove the form he displayed in League One and briefly in the Premier League was not a fluke and his move to the John Smith’s Stadium was justified.

Neal Maupay – Brentford

The Frenchman has been linked with a host of Premier League sides
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Last season, Maupay hit 25 goals in the Championship. But Brentford laboured to an 11th placed finish and the rumours of a move away have understandably intensified.

The 22-year-old is a France youth international and Aston Villa are keen on making a reunion with Dean Smith happen. If that happens, expect Maupay to bag even more goals.

Aleksandar Mitrovic – Fulham

The burly Serbian signed a new deal to keep him at Craven Cottage for the foreseeable future
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Despite rumours of a move to the Chinese Super League brewing, Fulham somehow managed to sign the Serbia international to a new deal this summer.

With Tom Cairney and Anthony Knockaert providing for him, Mitrovic could run riot in the second tier – he scored 12 in 20 appearances to help the Whites reach the Premier League in 2017/18.

Bradley Dack – Blackburn Rovers

Dack has made the transition to life in the Championship with consummate ease
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In a way not too dissimilar to Jack Marriott, Dack has risen from lower league football to become a prominent marksman. He scored 15 goals in his debut Championship season and looked like a natural.

The 25-year-old has plenty of time to develop his game and, as the main man at Edwood Park, do not be surprised to see him add to his tally from last season.

The best young British players Tottenham Hotspur could sign this transfer window, including Jack Grealish and Jarrod Bowen

28 Jan

Time is running out for Tottenham Hotspur should they wish to do any business in the January transfer window.

If the club, who have been eliminated from both domestic cup competitions in the space of four days, amidst an injury crisis, don’t sign anyone for the second window in a row then some supporters might start spitting feathers.

Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino.

Already frustrated as their thin squad has, just about navigated as series of huge issues, including the absences of Jan Vertonghen, Dele Alli, and others, Harry Kane’s ankle injury has highlighted just how much the club need more options in the squads.

Unfortunately due to the amount of players who count as ‘foreign players’ in their ranks, it seems manager Mauricio Pochettino is most likely to turn to young British talent to bolster his group.

But who are the options available to the Argentine? talkSPORT.com takes a look at the options below.

Jack Grealish (Aston Villa)

Going back in for the Villan would, one assumes, be the most sensible option. The club clearly like him and have seriously scouted the player given their attempts to land him last summer.

He’s spent time out injured this campaign and is currently on the sidelines but would be the sensible option, even if he did cost more than £30million.

Grealish has been the subject of a Spurs bid before

The player himself admitted he was disappointed the deal didn’t go through, despite signing a new five-year deal with the club.

He would give some extra drive in midfield in the absence of Mousa Dembele who was sold earlier in the month.

Jarrod Bowen (Hull City)

The Tigers youngster, 22, has proved a real breakout hit this campaign having scored 12 goals from right midfield.

Not only is Bowen a goalscorer, though, he always contributes defensively which is likely to endear him to Mauricio Pochettino.

Bowen has come on leaps and bounds.

But, according to Football.London, the club aren’t going to pursue their interest in this window.

Ryan Sessegnon (Fulham)

Heavily linked with Spurs before the Cottagers’ promotion to the Premier League, Sessegnon hasn’t quite taken to the top flight as was imagined.

He’s still young and learning his trade, though, so would be a sensible signing, but it’s more likely it would happen in the summer if Fulham are relegated back to the Championship.

Sessegnon could be available in the summer.

Jack Clarke (Leeds United)

It’s been reported Spurs have monitored the 18-year-old and on Monday it’s been suggested he could be the young Brit who Pochettino signs.

He’s being eased into action at Elland Road and while he has made 15 appearances, just four have been starts.

Clarke is being eased into action by manager Marcelo Bielsa.

Still, the youngster has managed two goals and two assists during his 579 league minutes on the pitch.

Bradley Dack (Blackburn Rovers)

As mentioned above, with Dembele gone it’s vital Spurs find a man to break the lines with dribbles, and who can pick a pass.

Dack doesn’t quite fit in the ‘young’ category but his strength on the ball and skill at evading opponents makes him an intriguing option.

Dack celebrates scoring for Blackburn.

It would be another step up for Dack, who was playing League Two football in 2013 but it’s likely he would be able to play a role for Tottenham, even if it’s off the bench.

Che Adams (Birmingham City)

A familiar name to Spurs supporters, Adams was the young striker who gave them an EFL Cup scare back in 2015.

Then 18, he hit two goals at Brammall Lane in the second leg of their semi-final tie, but Christian Eriksen struck his second of the game to ensure a 2-2 draw on the night and a 3-2 win on aggregate.

Adams will be recognisable to Spurs fans.

Now at St Andrew’s, he’s 22 and experiencing his best ever campaign with 14 goals, compared to seven and five in his previous two.

He could be a fine homegrown backup to Harry Kane.

Aaron Wan-Bissaka (Crystal Palace)

Likely to cost a lot of money, the Eagles’ right-back already looks an upgrade on Kieran Trippier and Serge Aurier.

Wan-Bissaka has been one of the best right-backs in the Premier League this season.

He contributes at both ends of the pitch and has plenty of potential to get even better, particularly under ‘full-back whisperer’ Pochettino.

Manchester City are also reportedly interested which would throw a spanner in the works.

David Brooks (Bournemouth)

Signed from Sheffield United last summer for £11.5million, the 21-year-old has impressed in his first top flight campaign.

Brooks already has five goals to his names, along with three assists, while the fact he plays towards the right would also help give Spurs some much needed balance.

Brooks has taken to the Premier League like a duck to water.

It’s unlikely the Cherries will be willing to part with the starlet easily though.

Max Aarons (Norwich City)

Another right-back linked with Spurs previously, it’s obvious where the club are looking to improve.

Arsenal have also expressed interest, if reports are to be believed and why wouldn’t they given he’s contributed two goals and four assists offensively.

His crossing would need to be worked on but his defensive output shows enough potential for a top club to sign him as long-term asset, with a view to replacing their current first-team option.

Aarons celebrates scoring for Norwich.

Ollie Watkins (Brentford)

A strong dribbler who, despite favouring the left wing, is capable of playing across a range of attacking positions, Watkins could be a versatile option for Spurs.

He’s also a threat on the counter, which would fit in with Pochettino’s philosophy, while his passing is good enough to earn him a part-time role if pursued.

Watkins has the potential to play in the Premier League.

Southampton are reportedly keen right now but there is no reason why Spurs couldn’t hijack any deal and add depth to their squad.

Eberechi Eze (Queens Park Rangers)

If Spurs aren’t even looking at the 20-year-old Championship starlet, then there is something very wrong at the club.

Two-footed, intelligent, and good in possession, he’s got huge potential.

As an attacking midfielder he’s happy to get on the front-foot or dictate play as a no.10.

Eze has shown his talents this season in the Championship.

He could be the perfect understudy for Christian Eriksen, especially if Pochettino is worried about losing the Dane.

Eight Championship stars who Premier League clubs should sign in January, including Tottenham and West Ham targets

14 Jan

The Championship is full of talented footballers who could shine in the Premier League if given a chance.

Top flight clubs are always looking for the best players who can make the step up.

Players like Dele Alli and Jamie Vardy cut their teeth in the lower leagues of English football, so there are some outstanding players who could be up for grabs.

Jack Grealish is a standout player for Aston Villa

Here are some of the best performers this season who could be worth taking a punt on.

Not included in the list below are those who are already on loan from Premier League clubs, such as Dwight Gayle and Tammy Abraham.

Jack Grealish – Aston Villa

The Villans are starting to see the best out of Grealish since Dean Smith took over.

The Midlands club have rejected many approaches over the years for the 23-year-old, including several summer offers from Tottenham.

Grealish is a boyhood fan of Aston Villa

The incredibly talented attacking midfielder has been one of the stars of the Championship this season but it may take a lot to tempt him away from Villa Park.

He’s a boyhood fan of the club and they may be reluctant to sell as it could harm their promotion chances.

Jack Butland – Stoke City

The 25-year-old was once considered England’s future but will have to do a lot to displace Jordan Pickford from the number one position.

Jack Butland currently plays for Stoke City

He is undoubtedly talented and with the current position of Stoke City in the Championship he could be looking to move back to the Premier League.

In the summer, the club slapped a £30million price tag on Butland, which could put teams off.

Adam Reach – Sheffield Wednesday

Premier League clubs should consider signing Reach for his stunning goals alone.

Adam Reach has six goals for Sheffield Wednesday this season

He has scored some wondergoals this season, finding the net six times and notching three assists.

The 25-year-old winger is wanted for £10million by fellow Championship club Aston Villa but it could be a risk worth taking.

Bradley Dack – Blackburn

Dack has 10 Championship goals from midfield this season in a mediocre Blackburn side. The 25-year-old is hard-working and makes things happen in the attacking third of the pitch.

He’s worked his way up from League Two, having previously played for Gillingham, and a Premier League club may take a punt on him, with West Ham reportedly keen.

Bradley Dack has 10 goals for Blackburn

Neal Maupay – Brentford

The Brentford forward has had a hand in 21 goals this season for a club who are languishing in 17th place.

Villa were thinking about breaking the Championship transfer record and pay around £16million for him if they lost Tammy Abraham in January.

Neal Maupay has been outstanding for Brentford this season

He was earmarked as one of France’s best attacking talents but never developed as expected – until now.

Ollie Watkins – Brentford

Watkins has been a big hit at Brentford since signing from Exeter City in 2017. He has scored 17 goals in 68 Championship appearances and the winger appears to be improving with the more games he plays.

Southampton have been interested in him but reportedly will cost them around £20million.

Ollie Watkins will reportedly cost clubs £20m

Jarrod Bowen – Hull City

Brown has only got better as the season has gone on. He’s scored 13 league goals this season but nine of those have come in the last eight games.

Tottenham are reportedly interested in signing the 22-year-old winger.

Jarrod Bowen has nine goals in his last eight games

Joe Rodon – Swansea City

The 21-year-old has become a regular at centre-back for the Swans following their relegation from the top flight.

He has been compared to John Stones and his performances earned him a call-up to the Wales squad in October.

Joe Rodon has been a regular for Swansea at centre-back

West Ham and Crystal Palace lining up £20million bids for Blackburn midfielder Bradley Dack – reports

3 Dec

West Ham and Crystal Palace could do battle in the transfer market for Blackburn’s Bradley Dack.

Dack, 24, has had a very productive first season in the Championship so far – scoring nine goals in 17 appearances.

Dack has risen the ranks of English football and could be heading for a Premier League move

His performances have attracted the attention of a number of Premier League clubs who have been tracking his progress this campaign.

According to The Sun, the Hammers and Palace are ready to test Rovers’ resolve with bids of around £20million for the talented midfielder.

West Ham manager Manuel Pellegrini wants to add a playmaker who has an eye for goal as Manuel Lanzini is yet to recover from his long-term knee injury.

Meanwhile, the Eagles have been using Wilfried Zaha and Andros Townsend in attack.

Tottenham Hotspur transfer news: Spurs ‘to make shock move’ for Blackburn midfielder Bradley Dack

21 Oct

Blackburn midfielder Bradley Dack is a shock target of Tottenham Hotspur’s, according to reports.

Dack has made the step up to Championship football with ease following Rovers’ promotion to the second tier.

Dack is widely regarded as one of the best English players outside the Premier League

He’s scored six goals and created a further two in nine league appearances this term, also chipping in with a further two strikes and three assists in the Carabao Cup – in just ONE match.

Gareth Southgate, the England manager, is said to be keeping tabs on Dack as he searches the Championship for potential senior internationals, and Spurs have been alerted to Dack’s talents as the January transfer window draws near.

The Express say Spurs are lining up a shock move for Dack after ‘impressive scouting reports’.

24-year-old Dack started his career at Gillingham before moving to Blackburn last summer.

He scored a remarkable 18 goals in 2017/18 as the Ewood Park club secured promotion from the third tier.

Dack’s form in the early stages of this campaign has helped Rovers into seventh in the Championship table, just four points off top spot.

Spurs have previously looked at signing the best Championship players, with the north Londoners hoping to capture Jack Grealish of Aston Villa over the summer.

Spurs have previously looked at signing Jack Grealish

However, Mauricio Pochettino’s side ended the summer window without a single signing, and Grealish went on to pen a new five-year contract with Villa.

Bolton 0-1 Blackburn: Bradley Dack seals Rovers victory over local rivals

6 Oct

Bradley Dack scored the only goal as Blackburn beat local rivals Bolton 1-0 to lift themselves towards the Sky Bet Championship play-off places.

Dack struck his eighth goal of a prolific campaign so far after 22 minutes as Bolton slipped to back-to-back defeats.

Dack continued his fine run of form

But Rovers survived a late scare when referee Darren Bond awarded a penalty for a push on substitute Christian Doidge.

However, a linesman’s flag raised for offside against Doidge overturned the original decision, much to Wanderers’ anger.

Bolton had won the previous six home clashes with Rovers but could not recover after falling behind to Dack’s latest goal.

And they paid the price for missing chances in the opening 45 minutes. Wanderers certainly could have been level at half-time but for a brace of fine saves from David Raya and a goal-line clearance.

Tony Mowbray’s side climb into the play-off spots

Rovers dominated early pressure but did not trouble Remi Matthews, who was again deputising for the injured Ben Alnwick.

And it was Phil Parkinson’s side who fashioned the first chance after Dack fouled Joe Williams on the edge of the Blackburn penalty area.

Josh Magennis fired in the free-kick but the wall did its job at the expense of a corner.

Five minutes later Blackburn took the lead. Matthews saved Harrison Reed’s first shot, a follow-up effort was blocked by David Wheater before Dack fired home left footed from 10 yards.

Bolton’s response was excellent with Spaniard Raya diving to his left to push away Will Buckley’s curling effort from the edge of the penalty area.

Raya produced an even better stop from Erhun Oztumer’s corner, tipping away Magennis’ powerful header.

Wanderers continued to press and nearly levelled three minutes before the break.

Magennis muscled his marker aside to head Oztumer’s corner goalwards only for Charlie Mulgrew to clear off the line.

It’s back-to-back defeats for Bolton manager Phil Parkinson

There was still time for Derrick Williams to be booked for a crude challenge on Craig Noone, scorer of Wanderers’ winner in their last home game against Derby.

Yanic Wildschut was introduced for Buckley at the start of the second half as Wanderers tried to force their way back into contention.

Magennis collected the game’s second booking before Rovers boss Tony Mowbray made a double change, taking off Rodwell and Rothwell for Richie Smallwood and Corry Evans.

For all their possession Bolton struggled to create many more opportunities.

Reed was yellow carded for time wasting while substitute Wildschut finally tested Raya.

Substitute Adam Armstrong might have eased away nerves with Rovers’ only chance of the second half but Matthews saved low down by his near post.

Then came the game’s big talking point with Doidge nudged in the back as he challenged for the ball. But within moments Bolton’s joy turned to frustration as referee Bond awarded Rovers a free-kick instead of a home penalty.