The Championship: A footballer's graveyard

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Ryan Giggs is in his 22nd season in the Premier League, Frank Lampard is in his 19th and Steven Gerrard is in his 16th.

The ever-increasing competitiveness of the Premier League means there is little space for experienced players over the age of 30. But where do they all go?

Wayne Bridge, the former Chelsea and Manchester City left-back, has won 26 caps for his country and has over 300 appearances in England’s top flight. At the same age as Ashley Cole some have debated whether he could still play at his level.

However, he has spent the past season in Brighton, where he featured in the 2012/13 Championship Team of the Season and continues to provide his services at Reading. Another former Premier League regular who now plays at Reading is, former Fulham defensive midfielder and captain, Chris Baird.

Jonathan Woodgate spent much of his career sidelined with injury during which he’s appeared for clubs such as Tottenham and Real Madrid. However, his dreams of playing at the top level were short lived as he returned to his hometown club, Middlesborough.

Another central defender who has slipped down to the Championship towards the end of his career is former Arsenal and West Ham centre-back Matt Upson. With over 200 Premier League appearances and 21 caps for England, including two goals, Upson is a vastly experienced member of the Championship.

Rob Green and Chris Kirkland are two English goalkeepers who, between them, share over 500 Premier League appearances.

Green has 12 England caps and represented his country at the 2010 World Cup. As 'keepers can play at their best late into their thirties - as demonstrated by Edwin Van Der Sar, Brad Friedal and Jussi Jaasskelainen - I don’t see why these two old timers can’t play in the Premier League.

Manuel Almunia, often regarded as a third-choice 'keeper during his time at Arsenal, wasted his golden years on the bench and now finds himself stuck in bleak north-west London at Watford.

Paul Konchesky, the former Liverpool and West Ham left-back, played over 200 games in the Premier League before he dropped to the Championship.

Another left-back who had previously been employed by the currently high-flying Merseyside outfit is Stephen Warnock, part of the Liverpool team who won the European Super Cup in 2005. They now play for Leicester City and Leeds, respectively.

I’m sure you all remember Jermaine Beckford, whose pre-Everton hype led to his imminent downfall.

As a player who worked his way up the Football League to Everton, things didn’t seem to work out for him in the Premier League.

He scored a disappointing eight goals in 24 appearances for the Toffees following his free transfer. At the age of only 29, the Championship seems to be the league for Jermaine, who has played for three different Championship clubs since his release from Everton.

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Matthew Upson
Jermaine Beckford
Jonathan Woodgate
Wayne Bridge

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