5 players exceeding expectations in the Championship this season
The Championship is among the most unpredictable divisions in world football. There are surprise teams and players every season. The current campaign has been no different. Cardiff City, Bristol City, Preston North End and Sheffield United are all exceeding pre-season expectations. Big clubs, meanwhile, such as Sunderland, Hull and Birmingham, are struggling at the wrong end.
There are also gems in the Championship. Players that have surprised everyone with their performances this season. Here are five.
Albert Adomah (Aston Villa)
Adomah has been in great form for Aston Villa so far this season. He has managed 11 goals, proving pivotal in Villa's success up to now.
Adomah's goal tally and performances have been surprising considering he scored only three in the league last campaign. The 30-year-old winger is now one of the first names on Steve Bruce's team sheet.
Leon Clarke (Sheffield United)
Clarke will be familiar to supporters of the Football League. The 32-year-old is the stereotypical journeyman, having played for a whopping 18 different clubs during his career. They include Wolverhampton Wanderers, Sheffield Wednesday, Charlton Athletic and Coventry City.
Clarke was signed by Sheffield United in summer 2016. Manager Chris Wilder wanted to add more experience and firepower to his attack in preparation for their League One campaign. The striker had spent the previous season at Bury, scoring 15 goals. He bagged seven for the Blades to help them win the title.
However, not many thought Clarke would go on to score 15 Championship goals by January.
Bobby Reid (Bristol City)
Bristol City manager Lee Johnson has transformed Reid from a central midfielder into a striker. The change is proving a masterstroke. The 24-year-old has been in fine form for the Robins this season, helping them into the play-off places.
After scoring 12 goals thus far, Reid is being tipped for a big money move to the Premier League in the future.
Gary Madine (Bolton Wanderers)
If Bolton Wanderers manage to secure survival this season under Phil Parkinson, a lot of praise must go to Gary Madine. The striker's nine goals and five assists have been vital in helping the Trotters in their relegation battle. His performances have caught Cardiff's attention, causing Bolton to slap a £6 million price tag on their prized possession.
Madine's stellar campaign is unexpected. The 27-year-old has previously experienced off-field problems, which made it difficult to find a permanent home. After hitting his peak at Bolton, maybe he has finally found a place to settle.
Jarrod Bowen (Hull City)
Bowen's displays make him Hull City's standout performer this season. He had played only four times before the campaign started, yet the 20-year-old was thrown into the deep end. He hasn't disappointed.
Bowen has built a reputation as one of the Championship's brightest young talents after scoring 11 goals this season. Considering he signed for Hull from non-league side Hereford, he is an inspiration to all young footballers playing at lower level.