Darren Randolph (GK – Middlesbrough)
Middlesbrough stopper Randolph has again proven to be a crucial part of the Teesside club’s play-off push this season. The 31-year-old Ireland international is well on the way to 20 clean sheets in the Championship and is a calm head as the last line of defence for Tony Pulis’ side.
Max Aarons (RB – Norwich City)
Despite only making his league debut in September against Ipswich Town, 19-yearold Aarons has fast become one of Daniel Farke’s key men as they bid to secure a spot back in the Premier League. As well as being defensively solid, he has become an attacking threat, with his blistering pace causing all kinds of problems for opposing full-backs and wingers throughout this season.
Liam Cooper (CB – Leeds United)
Leeds United’s captain Liam Cooper is every inch the dominant defender that is required for Marcelo Bielsa sides. He has formed a solid partnership with Pontus Jansson as the Elland Road club have racked up more clean sheets already this season than they did for the entirety of last term. The no-nonsense defender will no doubt play a key role as the title race hots up.
Pontus Jansson (CB – Leeds United)
A commanding figure at the heart of the Leeds back line, Jansson has been an important factor in their air-tight defensive unit this season. The 28-yearold Swede has been crucial to Leeds totting up more clean sheets already this campaign than the entirety of last season, due to his astute reading of the game and his outstanding aerial ability.
Jamal Lewis (LB – Norwich City)
A product of Norwich City’s academy, Jamal Lewis has shone this season under Daniel Farke. The Northern Ireland international is defensively sturdy but also boasts blistering pace and has caused opposition defenders headaches all season, supplying plenty of dangerous deliveries for the likes of fellow nominee Teemu Pukki.
Pablo HernAndez (MF – Leeds United)
Leeds’ popular veteran midfielder is fast becoming a favourite at Elland Road after his best goalscoring season to date, reaching double figures for the first time in his career. Having previously played in the Champions League with Valencia and in the Premier League with Swansea City, the 34-year-old has put that experience to good use as Leeds look to secure top-tier football for the first time since 2004.
Oliver Norwood (MF – Sheffield United)
Sheffield United’s midfield dynamo has enjoyed yet another excellent campaign at the top of the Championship. It can be no coincidence that the 28-year-old has been a part of promotion-winning sides at Brighton & Hove Albion and Fulham in the last two seasons, and is now bidding to make it a hat-trick with the Blades. Norwood’s wide passing range and deadly set-piece accuracy make him a huge asset to boss Chris Wilder.
Jack Grealish (MF – Aston Villa)
Aston Villa’s talismanic captain is fast becoming a legend at Villa Park. Having made his Premier League debut aged 18, Grealish has enjoyed his best season to date at his boyhood club, despite missing three months of the season due to injury. He scored decisive goals in both league matches against arch rivals Birmingham City. With his superb ball-striking ability and creative flair, expect the 23-year-old to be central to Villa’s late promotion charge.
Billy Sharp (FW – Sheffield United)
A PFA Team of the Season regular, Billy Sharp has yet again proven himself as one of the Championship’s most prolific strikers. He scored his 100th Sheffield United goal back in February and has already smashed his personal record of goals in the Championship, with well over 20 at the time of writing.
Tammy Abraham (FW – Aston Villa)
The on loan Chelsea forward has enjoyed spells at Bristol City and also Swansea City, but has arguably had his best season to date at Aston Villa. As well as matching his best personal goals tally in the second tier, he scored a remarkable four goals in Villa’s hectic 5-5 draw with Nottingham Forest last November.
Teemu Pukki (FW – Norwich City)
Hailed by Bolton Wanderers manager Phil Parkinson as the “best striker in the Championship”, Pukki has lived up to that billing by notching over 25 goals in all competitions this season. The 29-year-old Finland international has previously played for Celtic and Schalke 04, but this has been his most prolific league campaign to date as he attempts to guide Norwich back to England’s top tier.