Ranked! The 10 Championship players we’re most excited to see this season
5. Che Adams (Birmingham)
Since signing for Birmingham two years ago, Adams has been forced to endure plenty of upheaval. The bustling striker has the potential to be one of the Championship’s best forwards, but has contended with multiple managerial changes, various different systems and often been played out wide. He's at his best when rampaging through the middle, so perhaps Garry Monk can provide the stability both player and club need.
An ongoing transfer embargo has meant minimal changes to last year’s squad, and with the Blues looking a little light up front, the onus will be on Adams to make this his breakthrough season. At 22, the time is right to turn potential into concrete achievement. Injuries were an issue last year, but if Adams enjoys a clear run he could be one of the division’s top scorers.
4. Bradley Dack (Blackburn)
The attacking midfielder had already established himself as one of the best players in League One during his time at Gillingham, but last year’s move to Blackburn lifted his performances to another level. Signed for just £750,000, that fee was soon made to seem a snip as he registered 18 goals and 11 assists in 45 appearances during a memorable debut season.
Full of energy and endeavour, Dack also boasts technical ability and can play on either flank or through the middle. This will be his first taste of Championship football, but the reigning League One Player of the Year has nothing to fear and some sparkling performances in pre-season bode well for the season to come. The 24-year-old will be pivotal to Rovers’ hopes of success as they look to build on the momentum they’ve gained under Tony Mowbray.
3. Gil Dias (Nottingham Forest)
With an influx of Portuguese players, and the looming influence of Jorge Mendes, Nottingham Forest seem intent on taking the Wolves route to promotion. Having made 11 new signings, they’ve been installed as one of the favourites to win the league by bookmakers and were impressive in a 2-0 over Bournemouth in their final pre-season friendly.
Of the many arrivals, Gil Dias stands out as the most exciting. The 21-year-old Portuguese winger signed for Monaco in 2015 but has spent much of his time on loan elsewhere, including Rio Ave and Fiorentina. He has already displaced Joe Lolley, who finished the campaign strongly, and his trickery adds another dimension to Forest’s attack. They also have the option to make the deal permanent if Dias continues to impress.
2. Mason Mount (Derby)
The Rams have been unofficially, somewhat gratingly, rebranded as ‘Frank Lampard’s Derby County’ for the foreseeable future – but becoming the launch pad for the former Premier League star’s managerial career does come with certain benefits. One is ready access to talented players from the Chelsea youth system on favourable terms.
Mason Mount has arrived on a season-long loan deal, having demonstrated his quality during a productive spell in the Eredivisie. The 19-year-old midfielder, who plays in the mould of his manager and idol Lampard, scored 14 times for Vitesse last season and was named their player of the season.
Mount was also named best player of the European Under-19s Championship as England won the tournament last summer – and was subsequently invited to train with the senior squad by Gareth Southgate ahead of the World Cup.
1. Oghenekaro Etebo (Stoke)
Stoke will be hopeful of bouncing back to the Premier League at the first attempt, and new manager Gary Rowett has been busy adding new faces to steel the Potters for the demands of a testing Championship season. While most will be familiar to English football fans, Oghenekaro Etebo is relatively unknown.
Yet Rowett did well to pounce before the World Cup started, as the Nigerian midfielder’s impressive performances in Russia would no doubt have substantially increased the asking price. As it is, Stoke signed Etebo from Portuguese side Feirense for £6.35m and could well have a bargain on their hands.
Capable of playing a holding role or being pushed further forward, the 22-year-old is an excellent all-rounder. On top of his driving runs and boundless energy, he also packs a fierce shot. Championship goalkeepers have been put on watch.