In this article – Top 5 Championship players to watch
The Championship has always been highly competitive with some gems of individual talents joining the league, and this season is no different. Our Championship players to watch provides a detailed look into five exciting assets who could make their mark in a big way this season.
Within the tight and compact nature of the league though there will always be players of a particular quality, some will go on to be Premier League stars. Some are already established internationals, some have come from established clubs all over the world, and some from the country’s best academies to come and play in this remarkable league.
It is one of the most-watched leagues in the world for good reason. It is also a great league for a fun wager, and with the plethora of individual player markets available, especially in the pre-match and in-play shows, it really can pay to know the players well.
Imagine having the inside information on Michael Carrick’s plans for Chuba Akpom, or getting the juice on why Millwall signed Zian Flemming, or even the potential of Burnley’s Belgian wingers to score from range in the 2022/23 season.
Thankfully, we have some of the key information on five Championship players to watch ahead of the 2023/24 season that could pay dividends in various ways.
Bet £10 via this Paddy Power signup offer and you’ll get £50 in free bet builders.
Karlan Grant, Cardiff City: last year’s biggest underachiever could fire in a new environment
Whilst Cardiff City as a club are not a fancy to do well overall, a season of consolidation would surely be seen as a positive, they have at least signed a forward with a chance to out-perform expectations in South Wales.
After coming to prominence at Charlton Athletic in League One, Karlan Grant got his first major move to Huddersfield when they were a Premier League outfit. Though he was unable to help them from relegation in 2018/19, he was a standout performer in the back end of that season, managing almost 1000 minutes after his January signing and bagging three Premier League goals.
He has since established himself as a good Championship forward, at least until last season. His figures in the West Brom attack in the second tier in 2019/20 and 2021/22 were really quite strong, demonstrating why the 25-year-old makes our Championship players to watch list.
Grant was still on the end of plenty of chances, especially early in the season at West Brom, but, like the rest of the team, was unable to capitalise on those situations. Once Carlos Corberan came in, Brandon Thomas-Asante established himself at the level, and Daryl Dike returned from injury, meaning Grant’s opportunities slid away at the Albion.
Cardiff have given the forward a lifeline on loan. Until last season, Grant’s record in the Championship was almost as good as it gets, with a strike rate of two goals in every five games. Cardiff will be aiming to supply chances to him through their new-look attack of Ike Ugbo, Yakou Meite, Josh Bowler, and, returning hero, Aaron Ramsey. This investment would suggest that Cardiff are looking to be strong and powerful at the top of the pitch, this could help Grant.
Grant is available in the top scorer markets for a decent price. If he can establish himself as the key man in Cardiff’s attack then he could easily out-perform his odds, and he would be a key man to look at in goal markets pre-match.
Karlan Grant to be the Championship top goalscorer
Leif Davis, Ipswich Town: League One assist king ready to provide the bullets once more
The form of Leif Davis was a key reason for Ipswich Town’s seriously impressive promotion from League One in 2022/23. The former Leeds United full-back had the season that he, and Ipswich, would’ve imagined when they signed him for a big fee, relative to League One standards.
The 23-year-old finished the League One season on top of the suppliers’ tree with 14 assists to his name, just ahead of Sheffield Wednesday’s Barry Bannan. The same two players were way ahead of the League One field in terms of chances created as well, with an average of 2.74 and 2.75 per match.
Davis’ consistency and excellence in delivering the ball into the final third, and specifically, the penalty area meant that he was averaging an assist every three matches, an obscene record which meant he had to be included in our Championship players to watch.
Ipswich are very unlikely to dominate the play in the Championship to quite the extent that they did in League One, but Kieran McKenna is unlikely to change tact to such an extent that Davis will not be deployed in a similar fashion as he was last year. George Hirst has returned to the squad and will be a key target for Davis, but Ipswich are keen to continue to bolster their options in the final third. Whoever they do manage to attract will surely be only extra help for Davis to continue those excellent numbers.
Ipswich are primed for a positive season, and Davis could be a key man and one to watch the odds for in assist markets when they come out ahead of Ipswich fixtures.
Christian Fassnacht, Norwich City: expect goal contributions from experienced former Young Boy
Very little has broken through into the mainstream media about the Norwich new boy, Christian Fassnacht. He has been signed from Young Boys, the reigning Swiss champions, so he has given up another season of Champions League football to move to Carrow Road. The 29-year-old stood out in looking for a surprise package in our Championship players to watch in 2023/24.
Fassnacht has spent most of his career on the right side of the attack. Young Boys started to use him more centrally last season and he is a powerful player. Over 6ft tall, averaging over three dribbles a game throughout his career and a handful in the air as well, as demonstrated when scoring a header from a corner on his Norwich debut vs Toulouse last week.
The Swiss has had a long and successful career already and is ready to contribute to the Canaries from the off. He averages almost three shots per match and has scored 0.37 goals per 90 over his career, a number that went up to 0.54 per 90 in 2021/22 playing as a right winger.
Fassnacht isn’t listed in most top scorer outright books, but should be a player to watch out for in the pre-match scoring and shots markets.
Ellis Simms, Coventry: the anointed successor to Viktor Gyokeres has potential to succeed
Coventry were powered into the play-off final off the back of the performances of their best players. Gustavo Hamer is still in the Coventry squad at the time of writing, but Viktor Gyokeres, the Sky Blues’ former one-man wrecking ball up front has left for Champions League football and a Portuguese title race with Sporting.
Of course, the Coventry recruitment team will have been very much aware that if an unexpected promotion was not delivered then Gyokeres would have been almost impossible to keep. This would surely have meant that a lot of time was spent looking at potential replacements for the big Swede. Ellis Simms has been the successful capture and looks to be the key man for Coventry this season.
Simms carries a certain level of experience at this level after a moderately successful loan at Sunderland last season, and then he made some impact for Everton in the Premier League after his recall. However, this is the first time that Simms will have the pressure of leading the line as a permanent signing.
The 22-year-old has some really solid performance data behind him in his nascent career though. A 0.45 goal per 90 record is good, and is in-line with his xG numbers. Not only this but Simms is a competent mover with the ball, a worker of defences, capable in the air, and can set up chances too.
In our piece on potential top scorers for the Championship some of the key traits are held by Simms. He will be the main goal threat for a team that could/should do well in the league. At 22 he is a bit on the young side, most Golden Boot winners are in their prime, and most have played for their clubs before the season that they win the top scorer award.
Ellis Simms to be the Championship top goalscorer
Joe Rankin-Costello, Blackburn Rovers: the right back who plays everywhere
There is a lot of excitement all around the country, but especially in East Lancashire, about the emergence of Adam Wharton, a silky ball-playing midfielder who is set to play a lot of Championship minutes this year. However, our player to watch is someone who began last year as third-choice right-back, playing in the U21 side, and put on the loan list.
By the end of the season, though, Joe Rankin-Costello had finally nailed down his spot in the side. Football Manager had predicted this for many seasons but what was surprising about Rankin-Costello’s impression on the team was just how versatile he could be from his basic right back position.
Rankin-Costello pops up everywhere when Rovers are in possession. He is a real threat going forwards, as was most obviously seen in a remarkable performance at Huddersfield in April, where JRC took eight shots, seven of which ended up on target.
Having shaken off injury concerns that looked to be threatening his career, it was his ever-presence at the end of the season that was almost one of his biggest strengths. He played every minute, and only Coventry could stop him from taking at least one shot in the last eleven games of the season.
Watch for Rankin-Costello in the goalscorer and shots markets.
18+ please gamble responsibly.
Now is the time to open a Paddy Power account
Sign up below to take advantage of a £50 free bet builder offer to use on the Championship’s opening weekend, and all you need to do is place £10 on any football bet: