Top 20 players in the Championship 2016/17, according to WhoScored.com
By Martin Laurence, WhoScored.com
Last Updated: 03/05/17 11:09am
As another thrilling Championship season heads into the final week of the regular season, WhoScored.com pick out the top 20 players from the 2016/17 campaign.
Newcastle and Brighton are on their way to the Premier League, with Reading, Sheffield Wednesday, Huddersfield and Fulham set to battle it out in the play-offs for the final promotion place.
At the other end, Blackburn, Nottingham Forest and Birmingham are all fighting to avoid the final relegation spot and joining Wigan and Rotherham in the third tier.
But who have been the standout players this season? Here, WhoScored.com use their stats-based rating system to pick out the top five performers among goalkeepers, defenders, midfielders and forwards - and there might be some surprises…
Ali Al-Habsi (Reading) - 7.02
The fact that Al-Habsi has made the most saves in the league this season (164) despite playing for the third placed team proves just how crucial he has been to Reading's play-off charge. A total of 15 clean sheets is enough to rank third in the second tier to boot.
Daniel Bentley (Brentford) - 6.87
Placing third for saves (155) and sixth for save success rate of keepers to make at least 20 appearances (70.8 per cent), Bentley has further cemented his reputation as one of the Championships' top prospects between the posts.
Karl Darlow (Newcastle) - 6.85
When Newcastle signed Matz Sels in the summer it seemed that Darlow would be second choice and while that was the case early in the campaign, the 26-year old is very much the club's number one. With 13 clean sheets in 34 appearances, it seems unlikely that the club will be in for another keeper this summer.
Chris Maxwell (Preston) - 6.82
While 3.1 saves per game is enough to rank fifth in the Championship and 10 clean sheets is a solid return, Preston's Maxwell stands out most for his ability to deal with balls into the box. A tally of 72 crosses claimed is nine more than any other keeper despite missing eight matches this season.
Rob Green (Leeds) - 6.78
Level with Al-Habsi in third for clean sheets (15), Green's experience was crucial to Leeds' ultimately flawed play-off bid, with the Whites owing as much to the league's fourth best defensive record (46 conceded) as Chris Wood's goals at the opposite end.
Lewis Dunk (Brighton) - 7.61
Firmly established as one of the Championship's strongest defenders for some time now, Dunk will get his shot at the top-flight having been a dominant presence at the back once more for Brighton. Ranking second in the league for interceptions (130) while winning over 70 per cent of his aerial duels, the 25-year old is WhoScored.com's highest rated defender.
Pontus Jansson (Leeds) - 7.57
Quickly winning over the Elland Road faithful with his committed displays at the back, Jansson made his loan move from Torino permanent in January, but is already being linked with a Premier League switch. With 10.1 clearances and 1.2 blocks per game both ranking among the top five players in the league that comes as no great surprise.
Shane Duffy (Brighton) - 7.56
Though his season was cut short in March with a broken foot, Duffy forged quite the partnership with Dunk prior to that and it's a pairing that will stand the Seagulls in good stead in the top-flight. The Republic of Ireland international is even more commanding in the air than his team-mate, winning the fifth most aerial duels per game in the league (6.1).
Marc Roberts (Barnsley) - 7.54
When it comes to aerial duels, though, Roberts has been a man mountain at the back for Barnsley, winning a league high of 7.3 per game. With four goals and another league high of 12.4 clearances per game he has been superb for Paul Heckingbottom's side.
Tom Clarke (Preston) - 7.47
With the most tackles and interceptions combined of any centre-back in the league (207), Preston captain Clarke has certainly led by example, weighing in with four goals at the opposite end to boot.
Anthony Knockaert (Brighton) - 7.61
The Championship's highest rated player this season, Knockaert has been the star in Brighton's promotion bid, scoring 15 goals and registering eight assists, while completing the third most dribbles in the league (118).
Tom Cairney (Fulham) - 7.38
Level second on assists in the second tier this season, with 10, Fulham captain Cairney has been a cut above most midfielders in the division. A stunning 92.6 per cent pass accuracy is comfortably a league high, whilst also leading the way for chances created (113).
Conor Hourihane (Aston Villa) - 7.35
The league leader for assists by a distance, with 14, Hourihane excelled whilst captaining Barnsley but hasn't reached the same levels since a move to Villa. Eleven of said assists came for the Tykes, as well as six of seven goals, while an average of 3.2 tackles per game has dropped to 1.3 as Villa boss Steve Bruce struggles to find the right role for the Irishman.
Mile Jedinak (Aston Villa) - 7.30
One man that certainly hasn't underwhelmed in the claret and blue this season is Jedinak. Indeed, it's difficult to think of a player more crucial to his side's chances. Without his physical presence Villa look disorganised and unmotivated, so much so that just one of 16 victories have come in the 12 matches the Australian has missed.
Massimo Luongo (QPR) - 7.29
Ranking among the top 10 players in the league for both tackles (3.5 - second) and dribbles (2.3 - ninth) per game highlights just how impressive Luongo has been in an otherwise disappointing season for QPR.
Yann Kermorgant (Reading) - 7.41
He may not be the league's top scorer but when it comes to the significance of goals scored Kermorgant has been second to none this season. A career high tally of 17 from the 35-year old has directly earned Reading 15 points, while only one forward has won more aerial duels per game (5.7) to bring his team-mates into play.
Tom Lawrence (Ipswich) - 7.17
It's fair to say Ipswich aren't among the league's entertainers but in Tom Lawrence they've had a player that has had the fans off their seats with some memorable moments this season. Four of his nine goals have come from outside the box, with a further nine assists only serving to heighten the Tractor Boys' sorrow when he returns to Leicester this summer.
Fernando Forestieri (Sheffield Wednesday) - 7.14
Another player that has been deployed predominantly in support of a striker rather than leading the line, Forestieri's trickery has once again been pivotal to another play-off finish for the Owls. With 12 goals and five assists he's had a hand in more than any team-mate, having averaged 3.3 shots per game.
Jonathan Kodjia (Aston Villa) - 7.14
It's been a disappointing end to the season for Kodjia, first seeing red at Fulham only to break his ankle upon his return to the XI at the weekend. Villa will take solace in the fact that such a blow has come so late in the season, with the Ivorian's 19-goal tally accounting for 41 per cent of the team's total.
Sone Aluko (Fulham) - 7.11
Handed a lifeline having fallen out of favour at Hull, Aluko has been outstanding from wide in a fluid Fulham attack all season long. A modest return of eight goals is nothing to write home about but with 10 assists his contribution to the team's league high of 83 goals has been excellent, while ranking fifth in the division for dribbles (103).