12 players currently playing below themselves in the Championship

Stuart Fagg selects some second-tier stars who could be set for promotion to the top flight this summer - even if their clubs miss out

1. Lewis Dunk (Brighton)

If the south coast side once again fall short this year, it's hard to see how they'll be able to keep hold of the 6ft 4in stopper

Brighton’s vice-captain has been central to his team's defensive sturdiness this season, as the Seagulls tussle with Newcastle for top spot. Whether or not Chris Hughton's men get over the line in their bid for promotion, it's probable that Dunk's first dose of Premier League football will come next term.

Now 25, the confident central defender has hitherto stayed true to his boyhood club's ambitions, with Brighton insisting both last summer and in January that all bids for Dunk would be rejected. If the south coast side once again fall short this year, it's hard to see how they'll be able to keep hold of the 6ft 4in stopper.

Lewis Dunk

Dunk is widely regarded as one of the best defenders in the Championship

2. Aaron Mooy (Huddersfield)

A bow-legged, flowing central midfielder, the Socceroo glides through opposition lines with apparent ease

Mooy was the first signing of the Pep Guardiola era at Manchester City, which was in itself a sign that he has something special. His performances this season have proved that to be the case, with the Australian having been integral to Huddersfield’s promotion push from the start.

A bow-legged, flowing central midfielder, the Socceroo glides through opposition lines with apparent ease. He contributes defensively too, and is a proficient tackler, passer and all-purpose mover of the ball. A return to City might not be a realistic move, but Mooy will surely be plying his trade in the top tier regardless of what happens to Huddersfield between now and May.

3. Jonjo Shelvey (Newcastle)

Still only 24, a year in England’s second tier could turn out to be an vital educative exercise for the ex-Liverpool man

Fifteen years ago, a transfer from Swansea to Newcastle would have marked clear professional development, but Shelvey effectively took a step down when he joined the Championship-bound Magpies last January.

Still only 24, a year in England’s second tier could turn out to be an vital educative exercise for the ex-Liverpool man, who'll be all the better for his time out of the spotlight when he returns to the Premier League. Shelvey is arguably the most talented player in the Championship – which means he's unlikely to be there for much longer.

Jonjo Shelvey

Shelvey is congratulated by team-mates after scoring against QPR earlier this month

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