In Focus: Five Championship stars to watch

Sean Wilson
LiveScore
Joel Piroe netted 22 goals in 45 league matches for Swansea last term
Joel Piroe netted 22 goals in 45 league matches for Swansea last term

The Championship season kicks off later this month — and England's second tier will not be short of top talent.

Last term's edition featured a number of stellar individual campaigns, as Fulham, Bournemouth and Nottingham Forest achieved promotion to the Premier League.

Cottagers frontman Aleksandar Mitrovic grabbed the headlines by netting a staggering 43 times, laying down a marker for this season's forwards to aspire to.

With a number of players ready to take the league by storm, we take a look at five Championship stars to watch in 2022-23.

Joel Piroe

Mitrovic may have stolen the limelight during 2021-22 — but four other strikers broke the 20-goal barrier and enjoyed impressive individual seasons.

Swansea's Joel Piroe was one of those, having scored 22 times for the Welsh outfit, despite the Swans finishing in a disappointing 15th place.

It was a breakout year for the 22-year-old, who had never struck more than 11 times in a single campaign before — and that was for PSV's second team in 2018-19.

He will be hoping to build on that hot streak by firing Swansea into promotion contention this time around.

John Swift

Reading escaped relegation by just one place last season — and John Swift can claim a great deal of credit for keeping the Royals in the second tier.

The midfielder starred despite a woeful season for the club, scoring 11 times and registering 13 Championship assists. 

Only Fulham's Harry Wilson set up his team-mates more often as Swift directly contributed to over 44% of Reading's 54 league goals despite missing eight games with injury.

But they will have to stave off the drop without him in 2022-23, after he moved to West Brom on a free transfer this summer.

The Baggies will hope the 27-year-old's mercurial talents can fire them back to the top flight.

Chris Willock

Chris Willock will be a key creative figure in QPR's attack during 2022-23
Chris Willock will be a key creative figure in QPR's attack during 2022-23

Chris Willock enjoyed a fine campaign with QPR last term, notching seven goals and 11 assists in 35 Championship appearances.

And the attacking midfielder, 24, could have racked up even more impressive numbers, had he not suffered a hamstring injury in March that ended his season prematurely.

He is likely to miss the beginning of 2022-23 — but will hope to avoid any similarly serious issues, as he looks to light up the division once again next term.

Viktor Gyokeres

Viktor Gyokeres scored 17 times as Coventry finished 12th during their second season back in the Championship.

The 24-year-old centre forward led the line admirably and his performances have attracted plenty of attention.

Coventry will have a hard time replacing the Swede's blend of ball-carrying and quality finishing if he moves on — with Middlesbrough and even Leeds believed to be interested in the Sky Blues' No17.

Viktor Gyokeres found his goalscoring touch with Coventry last season
Viktor Gyokeres found his goalscoring touch with Coventry last season

Isaiah Jones

Isaiah Jones catapulted himself into Middlesbrough's first team with his impressive performances last season — a remarkable achievement given he was playing non-league football just three years ago.

The 23-year-old has been a revelation since being converted into a wing-back and fondly remembers his league debut against Fulham on the opening day of 2021-22.

He said: "I don't know how to put that day into words, that game against Fulham.

"My first touch was awful, I was pressed so quickly!

"But you eventually settle as you complete that first pass.

"So I'm in the game then and then I'm lucky enough to get the assist for the equaliser."

Jones has gone from strength to strength since then — and will be a constant menace down the right flank once again in the months ahead.

Tags

ChampionshipWest BromwichSwanseaCoventryMiddlesbroughQueens Park Rangers
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