The Sky Bet Championhip remains one of the least predictable leagues in the world, as evidenced by the promotion of both Hull City and Crystal Palace last season, neither of whom were among the front runners this time last year.

However, whilst teams may not perform as expected, there are some players who are clearly too high-quality for the country's second tier. 

Here is a selection of the new faces in the division that could set the league alight this season…


1. Royston Drenthe

Playing for Everton on loan from Spanish giants Real Madrid, there was no doubt as to the Dutchman's ability to dribble and finish, but a fiery temper was his undoing during his time at Goodison Park. 

Since then he has been in the footballing doldrums, finishing bottom in the Russian League with FC Alania Vladikavkaz last season. 

A free transfer for the left-sided player is clearly a bargain though, and he could prove to be the signing of the summer - if Nigel Adkins can keep his attitude in check.

2. Diego Fabbrini

Gianfranco Zola's Watford were not expected to impress last season, but impress they did with two golden chances for promotion. Both were passed up, and so they remain in the second tier. 

A summer of strengthening for the Hertfordshire outfit has been typified by the arrival of Diego Fabbrini, a highly-promising Italian from sister club Udinese. Having impressed in pre-season, a year of success beckons for the versatile 23-year-old attacker.

3. Jamie Mackie

Although the newly-signed Forest man has prior experience in the Championship, a few fairly successful years of top-flight football have preceded his arrival at the City Ground, making him eligible for this list. 

Not only that, but there is no doubt that Mackie is not the most talented player in the Championship, nor is he the most athletic, but he is the perfect Championship player. 

In a hugely disappointing season for QPR last season Mackie maintained effort where it seemed like his teammates had long given up. He can pass, tackle, score the odd goal and will most likely remain fit and willing for all 46 games, making him an ideal addition to any Championship squad.

4. Luke Murphy

Crewe Alexandra have developed something of a reputation for producing high-quality youngsters in recent years. Nick Powell, who moved to Manchester United last summer and may well be a new loan addition to a Championship side this summer, is one example, and now Luke Murphy, the 23-year-old midfielder newly signed for Leeds United, is the next. 

Despite his tender years he has already captained his former club in League One, and scored in the final of the Football League Trophy at Wembley, both of which prove his ability to perform under increased pressure.

5. Lewis Grabban

Eddie Howe's Bournemouth are surely one of the success stories of the Football League in recent years. Having narrowly avoided relegation to the Blue Square Bet Premier in 2009, they have slowly but surely worked their way back up the standings and into the second tier for only the second time in their history, and who's to say that they will slow down now? 

One man that will doubtless be pushing them onwards and upwards is forward Lewis Grabban. One of the most impressive forward men promoted to the Championship this year, the 25-year-old has already got his account for the new season up and running with a brace in his first game against Charlton, and Cherries fans will be hoping that these are the first of many.

6. Iriney

Another of Zola's summer signings from sister club Udinese, Iriney looks to fill a large void left by the departing Nathaniel Chalobah, who showed glimpses of midfield genius for the Hornets last season. 

Having played for half a dozen Spanish teams in the last decade and looking a formidable defensive force in pre-season matches, the 32-year-old Spanish-Brazilian could prove to be another relatively unknown import to succeed in English football.

7. Djamel Abdoun

Forest manager Billy Davies spent big this summer, signing Algerian international Abdoun for a reported £1.55 million from Olympiacos. 

Big things are expected of the 27-year-old winger this season, and he’s become the second biggest Championship transfer of the summer. With his former club he won consecutive league-and-cup doubles in 2011/12 and 2012/13, so the Championship may well be below his ability level.

8. Grant Holt

The biggest Championship transfer of the summer, Wigan boss Owen Coyle spent £2 million on the English frontman from Norwich City, and immediately became one of the favourites to pick up the top scorer award for this season.

However, a large degree of his success will be down to whom of Callum McManaman, Ben Watson and Shaun Maloney remain at the DW Stadium this summer. 

Regardless, Holt should be able to use his prior experience of the Championship and undoubted ability to repay the fee paid for him by the end of this season.


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