7 Championship stars with serious potential to shine in the Premier League
George Saville (Millwall)
Central midfielder, 24
Michael O’Neill wasted no time adding Saville to his Northern Ireland squad last September, as soon as he discovered that the tenacious Surrey-born midfielder was eligible through a late grandmother.
A highly instinctive player who is capable of making quick decisions and executing quality distribution when under pressure, he’s more box-to-box than holding but gets through enough of the dirty work to allow his engine room partner the licence to venture forward.
In short, we could be looking at another Tim Cahill, which is precisely who Saville set out to emulate last summer when he joined permanently from Wolves.
Bartosz Bialkowski (Ipswich)
Twice winner of the player of the year award at Portman Road, the Polish stopper is now having arguably his most accomplished season to date. Mick McCarthy won’t want to lose him, but with the Tractor Boys’ promotion hopes looking increasingly forlorn and Dean Gerken regarded as an able deputy, owner Marcus Evans might be inclined to take the money while he can.
With Crystal Palace reported to be interested, Bialkowski could yet establish himself as reliable custodian at the top level for the entirety of one lengthy contract – even if his capture at this stage of his career promises little resale value.
Nathaniel Mendez-Laing (Cardiff)
If Wilfried Zaha's return for Crystal Palace has provided struggling teams with a survival template to emulate, Mendez-Laing might just be the wildcard alternative they want to take a chance on.
The former Peterborough man has often flattered to deceive, but matured enormously under Keith Hill at Rochdale and set the Championship alight upon his arrival at Cardiff with five goals in his first five matches.
Those standards have slipped of late, which might tempt Neil Warnock and his short-term orientation into a spot of wheeling and dealing to revive a stuttering campaign.