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10 Championship players who really should be in the Premier League

Jack Grealish
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Ahmed Hegazi

Hegazi

West Brom joined Stoke in getting relegated last season, and it would have been no surprise if Hegazi had been poached by a top-flight side. 

While Jonny Evans got his move to Leicester, it was probably underestimated just how much the Egyptian contributed too. Even though the Baggies finished rock bottom in 2017/18, they had a defensive record better than seven teams above them.

Hegazi was largely an unknown entity outside of his country, having endured three torrid years in Italy in his only previous move abroad, but he quickly made a big impression at The Hawthorns and his physical style is ideally suited to English football.

Pontus Jansson 

Pontus Jansson

This is the 15th consecutive season that Leeds have now spent outside the Premier League, but under Marcelo Bielsa there is belief that this could be their year to return to the big time.

Bielsa is the fourth Leeds manager that Jansson has played under, despite only arriving at Elland Road in July 2016, but the defender has been ever-present under all of them.

The 27-year-old Sweden international is a dependable figure who is just as comfortable man-marking a burly forward as he is playing in Bielsa's intense and technical system.

Jack Butland

Jack Butland

Another from the Potteries who was tipped to remain in the Premier League following Stoke's relegation, Butland was also convinced to stay - for the time being at least.

Jordan Pickford may now be England's undisputed No.1, but going into the World Cup it was a straight fight for the position between Butland and the Everton goalkeeper.

Southampton's Alex McCarthy has also moved ahead of the 25-year-old in the pecking order, and Gareth Southgate warned Butland in September that such disappointment will likely continue while he remains a Championship player. "We feel it's important at this moment to keep faith, but he's going to have a challenge to stay in the squad," noted the Three Lions chief. 

Jay Rodriguez

Jay Rodriguez

It's hard not to reflect on Rodriguez's career and imagine an alternative reality. What if he hadn't suffered an anterior cruciate ligament injury just a few months after his first (and only) England cap? What if he hadn't missed the entire 2014/15 season as a result, as his Southampton team-mates went on to bigger and better things?

Sadly we'll never know, but now at West Brom, Rodriguez is trying to make up for lost time.

The forward already has nine goals and two assists this campaign, having also been one of their few bright sparks last season. Rodriguez will turn 30 next summer, but the Premier League isn't beyond him.

Ollie Watkins

Watkins

Watkins has enjoyed a steady but impressive rise during his budding career. After coming through the ranks at Exeter, the 22-year-old broke through during the 2015/16 season with nine goals in 22 matches from his position on the left wing. 

An even better campaign followed as Watkins won the EFL Young Player of the Year prize - previously bestowed upon Gareth Bale and Dele Alli - and Brentford duly came calling.

The forward made the step up from League Two to the Championship seamlessly, and rumours continue to abound that top-flight clubs are watching with keen interest.

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