Squarefootball's Championship Team Of The Season
There have been a number of top class displays from players in the Championship this season, some will even be polying their trade in the Premier League next season. But who has made it into Hugh Larkin's Team of the Season?
Squarefootball's Hugh Larkin has kept his eye on the ball in the world outside of the Premier League during this campaign and has assembled his perfect starting XI. So without further to do, here is Hugh.
So the season is over except for the play-offs and the professionals have voted for their team of the season. Seven of the team listed below appeared in the pro's selection. I chose to replace James Tomkins. Curtis Davies, Mark Noble and Matt Phillips but really all four could have made it into my eleven too - especially the exciting Phillips.
Goalkeeper - Kelvin Davis (Southampton)
Let's start with a cop out. Selecting a top goalie from the division is the most difficult job. There are many excellent keepers with top flight experience. A case can be made for Matt Gilks at Blackpool, or Robert Green at West Ham, but Kelvin Davis is a regular in the PFA teams and this is his third successive selection by his fellow pros, so I'll go with them.
Right Back - Nathaniel Clyne (Crystal Palace)
Nathaniel Clyne keeps racking up the accolades. His peers voted him into the PFA selection this year and in 2010 he was Football League Young Player of the Year. Palace fans have voted for him as their Young Player or Player of the Season for three years on the spin - and he's got two England under-21 caps.
All the talk is of a move to Manchester United, but even if that rumour doesn't bear fruit, it can't be long before Palace receive an offer they can't refuse for their brightest star.
Central Defender - Jack Hobbs (Hull City)
Hobbs is still only 23 but he seems to have been around longer after playing a couple of first team games for Liverpool. A victim of the influx of talent to the Premier League he was unable to find a way into the first team at Anfield past expensive signings like Martin Skrtel and Daniel Agger.
Since his move to Hull he's taken over the captaincy and marshaled a defence that notched 18 clean sheets this season. Still on the radar of the likes of Stuart Pearce, he could be an outside shout for a place in the GB Olympic squad and likely to find a route back to top flight football eventually.
Central Defender - Kaspars Gorks (Reading)
The PFA team has just one Reading player reflecting the collective excellence of Brian McDermott's squad. Gorks appears here because the Royals constructed a mean defence and title wins are based around a core of solid professionals who produce a consistent standard of performance day in day out.
The Latvian has been a great team man for Blackpool and QPR before arriving in Berkshire with a point to prove. A brilliant signing by Brian McDermott and along with Jason Roberts and Ian Harte, part of a group of old sweats who made the difference in many close encounters.
Left Back - Ian Harte (Reading)
In contrast to Nathaniel Clyne at right back, the PFA pros chose an old stager for the left back slot. Ian Harte wasn't exactly pacey in his pomp at Leeds United and towards the end of his time there seemed to have lost a lot of confidence.
It's been some resurrection of a career though. Harte is the only survivor from last year's PFA selection and his time at Reading seems to have been blessed ever since he scored on his debut. He continues to contribute his celebrated free kicks and dead ball delivery while bringing all his experience to the league's meanest defence.
Wide Midfield - Adam Lallana (Southampton)
Nominally a wide man but just as likely to appear down the middle. A genuinely creative player capable of driving at defences or delivering a killer ball. Has the look of a Kaka as he seems to travel at speed with little apparent effort. His promotion is reward for all his time at Southampton and his ability to switch positions should mean he's difficult to mark in the top flight.
Central Midfield - Peter Whittingham (Cardiff City)
Being named in the PFA squad is some consolation for a player who has shared all Cardiff's disappointments over the past two seasons. He's now been on the losing side in two Wembley Cup Finals and Cardiff have fallen short in the play-offs yet again.
Has made the transition from wide man to a far more rounded player who seems to have time on the ball - the usual sign of a class act. Piled up a lot of assists in the season and his subtle promptings kept his team on the front foot for most of the campaign.
Central Midfield - Kevin Nolan (West Ham)
The PFA chose Nolan's team mate Mark Noble but in a real team situation, you would want a combination of their skills. Nolan is the talisman brought in by Sam Allardyce to stiffen the squad's resolve in the promotion push and add that 'nous' that team needs to get the job done.
At time of writing the Hammers are still one game away from doing the job, outflanked at the death by Reading's remarkable surge in the race for automatic promotion. Nolan delivered double figures in the goals tally during the campaign and the team's dismissal of Cardiff in the play-off semis was brutal and efficient. Nolan is Sam Allardyce's alter ego on the park and he demands maximum performance, leading from the front.
Wide Midfielder - Chris Burke (Birmingham)
Possibly a surprise omission from the PFA selection, the Scot topped the chart for assists with 16. Burke is a throwback to a time when Scotland produced a succession of intelligent wide men who worked the whole touchline, tracking back diligently and finding ways to get crosses over.
Chris Hughton understood Burke's worth to the side. Not spectacular but always likely to provide that extra spark to lift the team.
Striker - Ricky Lambert (Southampton)
Surely no one would argue against the big striker's inclusion? His efforts for Southampton bring to mind Grant Holt, another muscular striker who proved to be a revelation as he moved up the divisions.
Lambert is a one-man strike force. He's strong in the air, takes chances calmly, puts himself about, brings his team mates into the game and smashes in mean free kicks - and he lays on goals, with 13 assists to add to his 27 strikes. The only question is can he do it in the Premier League? The evidence of Holt's campaign with Norwich suggests he can.
Striker - Jay Rodriguez (Burnley)
Lambert scored a bagful in a side heading for promotion but Rodriguez has consistently impressed in a mid-table outfit. The Clarets will struggle to keep their local product who led the line with aplomb and scored some fine goals including four against Burton in a crazy Carling Cup fixture. Blessed with excellent touch and vision, Rodriguez is a Premier League talent in the making.
Calling all fans of clubs in the Championship. Do you agree with Hugh's assessment? Do you think he has overlooked anyone? Whatever your views, we'd love to hear from you.