Sky Bet Championship stats XI of December: Eight sides feature in team of the month
By Martin Laurence, Whoscored.com
Last Updated: 04/01/18 2:00pm
The Sky Bet Championship has a rare rest this week following the hectic festive schedule, but who impressed in December?
Here is the team of the month, according to WhoScored.com's statistical ratings...
Goalkeeper: Chris Maxwell (Preston) - 7.0
December was a month of resurgence and renewed hope for Preston. With key men returning at the back their resolve was strengthened, but Alex Neil's side still had goalkeeper Maxwell to thank for a number of fine performances.
The Welshman kept four clean sheets and conceded just twice in December to help restore his side's chances of a top-six finish.
Right back: Tom Clarke (Preston) - 7.6
Perhaps even more important than the man between the posts at Deepdale was the return of captain Clarke, who hadn't started a single game before December due to injury.
Forced to act as cover at right-back, the 30-year-old did so superbly and had a real impact at both ends of the pitch, with match-winning goals against both Burton and Cardiff.
Centre back: Curtis Davies (Derby) - 8.3
The form team of December, Derby's rapid rise into the automatic promotion places owed a great deal to their experienced centre-back pairing.
Davies in particular was a colossus at the back for the Rams, earning the highest WhoScored.com rating last month - including three man of the match awards - by ranking among the top three players in the league for aerial duels won (62), interceptions (17) and clearances (68).
Centre back: Richard Keogh (Derby) - 8.0
Keogh was also in fine form alongside Davies to help Derby keep five consecutive clean sheets and concede just once in December. With 16 points from a possible 18, his assist in victory over fellow promotion chasers Aston Villa, along with a clearance off the line in that game, helped the Scotsman earn the WhoScored.com man of the match award.
Left-back: Tom Flanagan (Burton) - 7.4
Just when Burton seem to be out of their depth in the Championship they always seem to find some results, and Nigel Clough's side did their chances of survival no harm with some impressive results in December.
Left-back Flanagan was key to one of those at Reading, scoring in a 2-1 victory, while producing the most tackles of any player last month (26), as well as ranking second for interceptions (17).
Right wing: Ollie Watkins (Brentford) - 7.5
Watkins did no harm to his reputation as one of the brightest young talents in the Championship in December.
The right winger was top of the WhoScored.com man of the match ratings against both Fulham and Hull.
The match-winner in the derby against the former with a goal and an assist, the 22-year-old set up another at the KCOM Stadium, while also mustering 16 shots and 14 dribbles across five appearances overall.
Central midfield: Mark Duffy (Sheffield United) - 7.6
With another three assists to his name in December, Sheffield United playmaker Mark Duffy now shares the lead in the league this season with eight in total. The 32-year-old was at his creative best last month, setting up 14 chances and completing 12 dribbles across five appearances for the Blades.
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Central midfield: George Saville (Millwall) - 7.5
Saville's all-action displays in midfield have been pivotal for Millwall this season following his return to the club on a permanent basis, and he added his seventh league goal of the campaign with the winner against Boro last month, while producing 16 tackles and 13 successful dribbles overall.
Left wing: Jamie Paterson (Bristol City) - 7.5
A real livewire for Bristol City this season and crucial to their promotion bid, Paterson was in fine form yet again last month. The 26-year-old had a direct hand in a goal in each of his five league appearances, scoring three times and registering two assists to take his respective tallies to five and seven for the season.
Striker: Gary Madine (Bolton) - 7.4
Having taken time to adjust to this level, at least as far as his goalscoring touch was concerned, Madine certainly found it in December, with no Championship player scoring more than his four goals.
That was enough to double his tally for the season, while he also registered an assist in victory over Cardiff. The target man also placing third for aerial duels won (59) to help relieve the pressure on his defence.
Striker: Lasse Vibe (Brentford) - 7.5
Vibe had an underwhelming start to the season but he was back to his best in December with four goals in just three starts, all of which ended in victory for Brentford. The Danish international will hope to continue that form as he aims for a place in their World Cup squad next summer.