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Stewart Downing and Demarai Gray amongst Championship players to watch

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With the Championship season set to get under way in three days time, lets highlight my five players to watch this season.

Benik Afobe - Wolves

After years in the abyss at Arsenal fighting over a spot on the periphery with the likes of Marouane Chamakh and Yaya Sanogo, the 22-year-old finally got his chance at MK Dons and he made sure he took it.

He scored 19 goals in 30 appearances taking the league by storm before making the transfer to Wolves in January and following in a similar vein off form.

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A perfect foil for the bigger Nouha Dicko, Afobe is a pacey centre forward known for his clinical nature in-front of goal. If Wolves secure further midfield recruitments to supply the pair then Wolves could be set for another crack at the play offs.

Stewart Downing - Middlesbrough

An easy choice after achieving his best season in the Premier League since leaving Middlesborough.

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The 31-year-old scored six goals and created 85 chances, amassing eight assists in the process. His return home follows a plea to new West Ham manager Slaven Bilic who reportedly wanted to keep the former England International.

One of the Championship's most decorated players, Downing will be expected to create plenty of goals for Middlesbrough and with the transfer of Jordan Rhodes a likelyhood, it shouldn't take much doing.

Tom Ince - Derby County

A tough choice with the arrival of Andreas Weimann but Ince has a point to prove after seeing his career stall recently. The 23 year old rejected an under 21 call up earlier in the year and will be hoping an impressive season in the Championship will renew faith in his ability.

The winger scored 11 times last season in the 18 games for Derby and could easily recreate his form of 2013 that saw him scoop the Championship Young Player of the Year award.

Alex Mowatt  - Leeds

Part of an exciting young crop of midfielders at Leeds, 20-year-old Mowatt will be hoping to build upon his nine goals last season in what he will hope is a quieter campaign for Leeds after years of turmoil off the field.

Mowatt and a number of his peers came through the academy last season to impact upon the first team creating a shred of a silver lining for the Yorkshire club.

Uwe Rosler's side will hope for a more consistent season away from the limelight, a mid table finish should follow and Mowatt should be central to that.

Demarai Gray - Birmingham City

Described by manager Rowett as the “biggest signing of the summer so far” to Sky Sports after renewing his contract, 19-year-old Gray has a lot of expectation on his shoulders.

After surviving relegation last summer Birmingham will be hoping for a mid table finish with as few a scares as possible. The England Under 20 International will be imperative to this and should hit higher heights than last season in a more relaxed team.

Gray has been tipped for the top by his own manager and should catch the eye of a few more Premier League suiters next term. Still raw but an exciting talent none the less.

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Topics:
Championship
Leeds United
Middlesbrough
Football
Birmingham

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