Championship Top Men: Midlands heroes

Wolves, Birmingham, Derby, Leicester and Nottingham Forest provide players for our Championship Top Men XI, with Watford's Troy Deeney also in.

Last Updated: 03/04/13 at 15:29 Post Comment

More of the games that matter

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Here's TEAMtalk's latest top XI from England's second tier. We explain our selections and then invite you to pick your team of top men. We're looking for the players who caught your eye with dazzling displays or powerful performances in the two most recent rounds of Championship action.

You can choose any formation and there's no limit on how many players you can pick from each team - so have a think, then get involved.

Championship Top Men (4-3-2-1): Schmeichel; Buxton, B Turner, Stearman, Wiggins; McGugan, McCann, Ferguson; Deeney; Ebanks-Blake, Austin.

Kasper Schmeichel (Leicester)

The son of the great Dane Peter Schmeichel produced an inspirational performance against Millwall, but could not prevent them from going down to a 1-0 defeat. Schmeichel brilliantly kept out Shane Lowry's 20-yard effort from a free-kick before tipping Jermaine Easter's 20-yard drive behind for a corner. The young shot-stopper then showed his worth again as he magnificently denied former West Brom striker Rob Hulse but the 10 men's resistance was eventually broken when Alan Dunne netted.

Rhoys Wiggins (Charlton)

Chris Powell's hard-working side held promotion-chasing Brighton to their 16th draw of the season on Tuesday. They managed to stifle the hosts thanks largely to a solid display from the fit-again left-back. Following a frustrating spell on the sidelines with a foot injury, the 25-year-old helped keep the Addicks keep their shape at the back, despite Gus Poyet's side dominating possession throughout. The Seagulls hit the woodwork twice during stoppage time, but Athletic, who boast one of the best away records in the Championship managed to hold on.

Richard Stearman (Ipswich)

The defender - on loan from Wolves until the end of the season - was excellent at centre-half during Town's 3-0 victory at home to Leeds. David McGoldrick bagged a quick-fire brace and Jay Emmanuel-Thomas added a third to seal the points but the 25-year-old showed just why Mick McCarthy brought him to Portman Road with a commanding display to thwart any attacks from the visitors. McCarthy said: "We made saves and blocks, stuck at it and kept a clean sheet until we had opportunities to score."

Ben Turner (Cardiff)

Giant centre-half Turner helped leaders Cardiff stretch their advantage to seven points at the top of the standings. The 24-year-old was a towering presence at the back as the Bluebirds defeated struggling Blackburn 3-0 at home. Goals from Fraizer Campbell, Joe Mason and Peter Whittingham earned them a comfortable victory but Rovers were never given a sniff of a chance as Turner helped shore things up with a commanding display. "We looked like a team that dominated from start to finish. That doesn't happen too many weeks in this division," said Cardiff boss Malky Mackay.

Jake Buxton (Derby)

Jake Buxton's 87th-minute header helped Derby to record a 2-1 win against Leeds at Elland Road on Monday. Substitute Ross McCormack put the hosts ahead before Conor Sammon's penalty struck the post allowing Paul Coutts to react quickest to the rebound. Then the former Burton Albion man got on the end of a Ben Davies corner to send the Rams up to eighth in the table and an outside chance of making the play-offs. It was the Rams third successive win - and their ninth in a row over Leeds. Buxton said afterwards: "My momentum took me around the back of the goal and heading towards the fans, so I just kept going. The gaffer told me to calm down, because I looked knackered afterwards and didn't recover for the last five minutes!"

Lewis McGugan (Nottingham Forest)

McGugan is out of contract in the summer and after the midfielder put himself in the spotlight after squeezing in the equaliser from a tight angle in the 2-2 draw at home to Brighton before his late penalty late secured a point at Burnley on Monday. The Clarets looked set for a first home win since January and a return to the top half after Junior Stanislas' second-half strike but the visitors extended their unbeaten run to eight matches since Billy Davies was reappointed manager as McGugan fired past Lee Grant for his fifth goal in five games to keep Forest in fifth.

Grant McCann (Peterborough)

Darren Ferguson paid tribute to the mental strength of Grant McCann after his two penalties earned the Posh a priceless win over Championship leaders Cardiff. The veteran midfielder stepped off the bench in the 69th minute with his side trailing the leaders 1-0. And just three minutes later Don Cowie was deemed to have upended Mark Little in the box and McCann equalised from the spot. Then, seven minutes later, McCann netted another penalty after Dwight Gayle was felled by Matthew Connolly. The victory moved Peterborough - unbeaten in six games - out of the drop zone and into 21st place ahead of their game against Middlesbrough.

Troy Deeney (Watford)

Watford closed the gap on second-placed Hull City to one point with victory over the Tigers on Tuesday night. They had not won in three matches prior to the clash but Troy Deeney's fine 20-yard strike four minutes before the break settled a nervy contest 1-0 in the Gianfranco Zola side's favour. Almen Abdi and Czech Republic international Matej Vydra were both involved in the build-up and Deeney produced a glorious right-footed curling finish from the edge of the area which David Stockdale could not prevent flying into the top corner.

Shane Ferguson (Birmingham)

The Blues sprung a major surprise by thrashing high-flying Crystal Palace 4-0 on Friday evening. After goals from Nathan Redmond, an own goal by Damien Delaney and Ravel Morrison, the Newcastle loanee produced an exquisite free-kick from the edge of the area that saw Palace's 18-match unbeaten league record at Selhurst Park come to a crashing end and send the 1,069 travelling fans into jubilation while home faithful booed the home side off at the full-time whistle.

Sylvan Ebanks-Blake (Wolves)

Wolves boost their chances of avoiding a second successive relegation thanks to their fourth win in five games, as well as their first league double over their neighbours Birmingham in 14 years. Ebanks-Blake took advantage of some lackadaisical defending to put the visitors 2-0 up. Kevin Doyle was then brought down by Jack Butland in the area which allowed the striker to slot home the resulting penalty for his 15th strike of the season and leave Dean Saunders' side a point above the relegation places. The bad news is that the club must now fight for survival without the striker after he was ruled out for the season with a broken fibula.

Charlie Austin (Burnley)

It turned out to be a Good Friday for the Clarets' striker who struck a brace in a pulsating 3-3 draw with Watford as former Hornets boss Sean Dyche enjoyed a happy return to Vicarage Road. His side took the lead after just 39 seconds thanks to Austin. Ross Wallace's initial shot was blocked but the ball fell perfectly for the striker to tuck in the rebound. He scored again in the 24th minute after Marco Cassetti had tripped former loanee Alex Kacaniklic and Austin crashed his penalty down the middle and into the roof of the net.

Who were you impressed by in the Championship over the Easter period? Let us know by posting a Comment below!

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