Champ Player of Year
It has been another action-packed year in the Championship, but which star has shone brightest?
Last Updated: 22/03/13 8:57am
It has been another action-packed year in the Championship, but which star has shone brightest in the second tier?
The Football League awards will honour the great and good on Sunday evening, with a gala ceremony at The Brewery in London set to acknowledge the efforts of those who have excelled in 2012/13.
Competition for the top gongs is as fierce as ever, with so many players having caught the eye.
There can, however, be only three contenders for the coveted Player of the Year award and it comes as no surprise to find that two players looking to fire their respective sides to promotion and another seemingly destined for the Premier League make up the Championship shortlist.
Tom Ince - Blackpool
It is fair to say the 2012/13 campaign has been an eventful one for Ince, but one in which he has enhanced his growing reputation. Having fallen agonisingly short in his efforts to help Blackpool back into the top-flight last season, Ince has been able to pick up where he left off this term. He burst out of the blocks, with six goals netted in as many games as the Seasiders set the early Championship pace. Ince added another seven efforts to his tally before the turn of the year, with his form offering a rare glimmer of hope as Blackpool faded. He has since moved on to 18 for the season, a fine return for someone turning out for a side that sits just four points above the drop zone. Away from his duties at club level, where he now works under his father Paul, Ince has impressed for the England U21s, helping them to qualify for this summer's European Championship. He was caught up in the unsightly scenes which marred a play-off victory over Serbia in October, and must serve a one-game ban as a result. Ince is, however, considered to be a key part of Stuart Pearce's plans and were he to impress in Israel, it is likely that the transfer speculation which has followed him around for some time will resurface - with Liverpool known to be keen on taking him back to Anfield two years after allowing him to join Blackpool on a permanent basis.
Matej Vydra - Watford
We are often told that adapting to life in England can be tough for recruits from foreign climes, with the pace and physicality of the game coming as something of a shock to the system. The Championship is certainly no place for the faint-hearted, so to slip seamlessly onto that stage and impress from the get-go takes some doing. Vydra has, however, shown that he is blessed with the kind of ability which would allow him to shine at any level. Among those to have linked up with Watford on season-long loans from Udinese as a result of the Pozzo family's involvement at Vicarage Road, it is being suggested that the Czech striker would demand a £10million transfer fee were he to move to England on a permanent basis in the summer. For Watford to be in a position to bring him on board full-time, they would need to be competing in the Premier League. There is every chance that they will be back in the big time next season, with Vydra having fired them into automatic promotion contention. Still only 20 years of age, he made a steady start to the season - scoring five goals before the end of October. Vydra came into his own around Christmas time, with the target found on 12 occasions between 22nd December and 23rd February. He has taken his tally on to 20 for the season and forms part of a Watford side sat two points adrift of the top two.
Glenn Murray - Crystal Palace
The team sat one point behind Watford in the standings at present are Crystal Palace, another side determined to force their way back onto English football's top table. They remain very much in contention to hit that target largely thanks to the prolific form of striking hot-shot Murray. Palace moved to secure his services in 2011 after being impressed by his goals-to-games ratio at Rochdale and Brighton. He found the target just seven times during his debut season at Selhurst Park, but has more than quadrupled that return in 2012/13. He sits proudly atop of the Championship scoring charts, with his nearest challenger for that particular prize some six goals adrift. Murray has already reached 30 for the season, and 29 of those have come in the league. His efforts have helped Palace to countless points, with it safe to assume that they would not be where they are now were it not for their number 17. Murray has helped himself to two hat-tricks this season, but could have many more match balls to his name as he has also bagged nine braces over the course of the campaign. It has to be noted that only seven of his goals have come on the road, but he is no flat-track bully and would welcome the opportunity to test himself at a Premier League level for the first time in his career.