Ranked! The top 50 Football League players 2023

Football League players this season
(Image credit: Future)

FourFourTwo compile a list of the best players in the Football League at this time every year – and we do it by asking you, our readers.

We polled fans of all 72 Football League clubs, from Accrington Stanley to Wycombe Wanderers, asking supporters to name the standout stars in their team’s division – not including those in their own side.

Championship supporters gave us a ranking list of their top 10 players, with first place getting 10 points, second receiving nine, down to a single point for 10th.

In Leagues One and Two, supporters offered their top five, with five points for first, down to one point for fifth. The points were then totted up, and a weighting given to each division, to reveal our final half-century.

No countdown is ever met with universal agreement – we’ve learned that by now – so let the debate begin. If you’re convinced our voters have got it utterly wrong,
tell us how and why via Twitter including the hashtag: #FLTOP50

The top 50 Football League players this season: according to you

50. Hannibal Mejbri

Hannibal Mejbri of Birmingham City looks on during the Emirates FA Cup Fourth Round match between Birmingham City and Blackburn Rovers at St Andrew's Trillion Trophy Stadium on January 31, 2023 in Birmingham, England.

Hannibal Mejbri of Birmingham City in action against Blackburn Rovers (Image credit: Michael Regan/Getty Images)

Club: Birmingham City
Position: Midfielder
Age: 20

In another challenging season for Birmingham, the Manchester United loanee’s intense pressing has won him many a fan, either side of 10 minutes at the World Cup with Tunisia. If he channels his aggression better, he’ll go far. 

HIGHLIGHT Pulling off a clever and perfectly-executed free-kick against West Brom to catch out David Button at his near post.

49. Andy Cook

Andy Cook of Bradford City celebrates after scoring a goal to make it 2-1 during the Carabao Cup First Round match between Bradford City and Hull City at Northern Commercials Stadium on August 9, 2022 in Bradford, England.

Andy Cook of Bradford City in action against Hull City  (Image credit: Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images)

Club: Bradford City
Position: Forward
Age: 32

Strong enough to be a focal point, skilled and mobile enough to thrive individually, ‘Cookie’ did threaten in patches last season but is now more consistent, with 18 league goals before March.

HIGHLIGHT Showing strength, spirit, technique and composure to score against Gillingham after nicking the ball on the touchline.

48. Paul Smyth

Paul Smyth of Leyton Orient in action during the Sky Bet League 2 match between Stockport County and Leyton Orient at the Edgeley Park Stadium, Stockport on Saturday 19th November 2022.

Paul Smyth of Leyton Orient in action against Stockport County (Image credit: Mike Morese/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Club: Leyton Orient
Position: Forward
Age: 25

The pacy left-winger has made 2022/23 his sizzle reel, bagging
a wide array of majestic goals.

HE SAID “It’s quite strange, not scoring a worldie” – in August, referencing his wonder-strike against Barrow last March. He’s since netted a 20-yard peach,
a bicycle kick and a solo dribble he converted after being floored.

47. Will Collar

Will Collar of Stockport County celebrates after scoring their second goal during the Vanarama National League match between Stockport County oand FC Halifax Town at Edgeley Park on May 15, 2022 in Stockport, England.

Will Collar of Stockport County scores against Halifax Town (Image credit: Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

Club: Stockport County
Position: Midfielder
Age: 26

Dave Challinor’s mad Hatters mix up their game impeccably and Collar is a big part of their push for back-to-back promotions. He’s a fine passer with boundless energy in his box-to-box role.

DID YOU KNOW? With a dozen goals, even as a No.8, he nets in bursts: five in three in December, then five in five during February.

46. Dion Charles

Dion Charles of Bolton Wanderers celebrates after scoring the team's second goal during the Papa John's Trophy Final between Bolton Wanderers and Plymouth Argyle at Wembley Stadium on April 02, 2023 in London, England.

Dion Charles of Bolton Wanderers scores against Plymouth (Image credit: Tom Dulat/Getty Images)

Club: Bolton Wanderers
Position: Forward
Age: 27

Like many strikers to rise from non-league, Charles is dogged and aggressive. He transmits his work ethic a tad more selfishly through Ian Evatt’s instruction and has gained his rewards by keeping narrow: with 18 before March, he should be Bolton’s first player to hit 20 goals in a season (all competitions) since 2000/01. 

45. Conor Chaplin

Conor Chaplin (10 Ipswich Town) during the Sky Bet League 1 match between Ipswich Town and Plymouth Argyle at Portman Road, Ipswich on Saturday 14th January 2023.

Conor Chaplin in action against Plymouth (Image credit: Kevin Hodgson/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Club: Ipswich Town
Position: Forward
Age: 26

Having been Valerien Ismael’s pressing monster in Barnsley’s incredible Championship play-off campaign of 2020-21, Chaplin is the cute No.10 Kieran McKenna wanted at Ipswich: still physical, but instinctive in the final third.

THEY SAID “Conor is the best finisher I’ve ever worked with” – former Ipswich boss Paul Cook.

44. Tom Ince

Thomas Ince of Reading celebrates after scoring their side's second goal during the Sky Bet Championship between Reading and Swansea City at Select Car Leasing Stadium on December 27, 2022 in Reading, England.

Tom Ince celebrates scoring against Swansea for Reading (Image credit: Warren Little/Getty Images)

Club: Reading 
Position: Midfielder
Age: 31

Under his dad’s guidance at the Madejski, ‘young Thomas’ has had one of his most consistent seasons. Previously an enigma, he now sets the tone, chasing, harrying and cajoling while also bringing his individual ability. 

DID YOU KNOW? Royals fansite The Tilehurst End awarded Ince Player of the Month four times. Anybody else fancy stepping up?

43. Laurence Vigouroux

Lawrence Vigouroux of Leyton Orient sends the ball forward during the Carabao Cup First Round match between Forest Green Rovers and Leyton Orient at The New Lawn on August 09, 2022 in Nailsworth, England

Lawrence Vigouroux of Leyton Orient in action against Forest Green Rovers (Image credit: Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

Club: Leyton Orient
Position: Goalkeeper
Age: 29

HE TOLD FFT "A lot comes down to the goalkeeping coach and the manager: they give me everything I need to prepare for the weekend, and we go by what we’ve seen in previous games. If I go by my instincts, I could go too high and get lobbed from the halfway line or something!" [Laughs]

42. Carl Piergianni

Carl Piergianni of Stevenage celebrates victory following the Emirates FA Cup Third Round match between Aston Villa and Stevenage at Villa Park on January 08, 2023 in Birmingham, England.

Carl Piergianni of Stevenage celebrates in the FA Cup (Image credit: Clive Mason/Getty Images)

Club: Stevenage
Position: Defender
Age: 30

‘Pidge’, 6ft 1in, isn’t League Two’s tallest defender, but desire and a phenomenal leap ranks him among the best for aerial duels and in the division’s top 10 – in all positions – for shots inside the box. He’s an inspiration for Steve Evans’ shock promotion chasers.

DID YOU KNOW? He’s the EFL’s top-scoring centre-half, having netted seven goals before March.

41. Troy Parrott

Troy Parrott of Preston North End celebrates after scoring their sides first goal from the penalty spot during the Sky Bet Championship between Preston North End and Luton Town at Deepdale on February 15, 2023 in Preston, England.

Troy Parrott of Preston North End after scoring from the penalty spot against Luton Town (Image credit: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

Club: Preston North End
Position: Forward
Age: 21

The Tottenham striker is progressing well on loan at Preston, even if goals remain frustratingly out of reach. His pressing, dribbling and link-up play have not gone unnoticed at Deepdale since his return from an October lay-off.

THEY SAID Boss Ryan Lowe: “His work rate is phenomenal. For his size, he’s a bit of a unit inside.”

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Huw was on the FourFourTwo staff from 2009 to 2015, ultimately as the magazine's Managing Editor, before becoming a freelancer and moving to Wales. As a writer, editor and tragic statto, he still contributes regularly to FFT in print and online, though as a match-going #WalesAway fan, he left a small chunk of his brain on one of many bus journeys across France in 2016.