Champ Top Men: Vydra and Zigic make cut

Burnley, Birmingham and Watford each have two players in TEAMtalk's pick of the top Championship performers from the weekend.

Last Updated: 21/01/13 at 17:13 Post Comment

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 Championship.

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 (3-4-3): Grant; Trippier, Caldwell, Chambers; Smith, Stephens, Battocchio, Cohen; Barnes, Vydra, Zigic.

Lee Grant - Burnley

It was not that long ago that Burnley were languishing in the bottom half of the Championship table and looking over their shoulder, rather than up the division. They are now just one place and four points outside the play-offs. Three straight wins have rocketed them up the standings, and Grant has helped the Clarets to keep clean sheets in each of those successes - including a weekend win at Millwall.

Kieran Trippier - Burnley

Burnley prevailed 2-0 at The Den on Saturday, with a side full of confidence making the most of a meeting against one currently struggling to piece positive results together. Sean Dyche's men were assured at the back and creative going forward. Trippier played his part at both ends of the field, helping to secure a clean sheet and providing an assist for Danny Ings' second half effort.

Steven Caldwell - Birmingham City

The 2012/13 campaign remains a forgettable one for Birmingham, but they did at least display some fighting spirit on Saturday in claiming a share of the spoils in a 2-2 draw with Brighton. Caldwell and his defensive colleagues will be disappointed to have been breached on two occasions, but the Scot did notch a rare goal early on at St Andrew's to help them to a point.

Luke Chambers - Ipswich Town

Ipswich would have been hoping for more than a 1-1 draw when they welcomed struggling Barnsley to Portman Road. They will, however, take another point in their battle to beat the drop. Chambers thought he had snatched all three when he converted just before the hour mark, but he was unable to keep the Tykes out and they levelled matters late on.

Tommy Smith - Cardiff City

There were some spectacular strikes in the second tier over the weekend, and Smith was among those to find the target in style. He grabbed what proved to be the winner for league leaders Cardiff during a testing trip to Blackpool. Smith's excellent effort came shortly after the Seasiders had drawn level at 1-1, with the Bluebirds proving that they can grind out results when required.

Dale Stephens - Charlton Athletic

Arguably the goal of the weekend in the Championship was scored by Stephens as Charlton claimed an impressive 2-1 victory over Blackburn. Stephens helped to ruin Michael Appleton's bow as Rovers boss with an unstoppable volley. The ball dropped his way 25 yards from goal, and the Addicks midfielder crashed a stinging effort past a helpless Jake Kean.

Christian Battocchio - Watford

Gianfranco Zola's Watford continue to go from strength to strength, with a fourth win in five allowing them to cement their standing inside the play-off places. Out-of-sorts Huddersfield proved to be no match for the Hornets on Saturday, with the hosts claiming a 4-0 victory at Vicarage Road. Battocchio steered home their fourth of the afternoon, with the promising 20-year-old midfielder grabbing his first goal for the club.

Chris Cohen - Nottingham Forest

Cohen made his 300th career start on Saturday lunchtime, and celebrated that landmark by grabbing a vital goal in a tense East Midlands derby between Derby County and Nottingham Forest. Cohen opened the scoring at Pride Park, with luck favouring him as he stroked home from close range. Derby restored parity after the break, but Cohen and Forest were happy to settle for a point against their arch-rivals.

Ashley Barnes - Brighton & Hove Albion

Barnes gave highly-rated Birmingham goalkeeper Jack Butland no chance with a well-struck drive from the edge of the penalty area. Brighton were trailing at the time, but ensured that they hit back within six minutes of Caldwell's opener. Barnes has been a regular source of goals for Brighton once again this season, and remains an important figure in Gus Poyet's plans.

Matej Vydra - Watford

Watford's mauling of Huddersfield has already been mentioned, and it comes as no surprise to find the Hornets have two representatives within our ranks. Czech forward Vydra makes the grade after bagging a brace against the Terriers. Vydra has now taken his tally for the season onto 16, and he could be the man to fire Zola's side back into the Premier League.

Nikola Zigic - Birmingham City

For the third time this season, Zigic dug Birmingham out of a hole late on over the weekend. A 2-2 draw at St Andrew's has already been discussed, with the hosts having allowed an early lead to slip through their grasp. It appeared as though Birmingham would end the afternoon empty-handed heading into stoppage-time, but Marlon King dug out a cross and Zigic forced an effort through Tomasz Kuszczak and over the line.

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