With Christmas Day now less than three weeks away, clubs in the English Football League are looking ahead to their busy festive fixture schedules.
The Boxing Day programme in particular offers much excitement to supporters across the land as clubs generally compete for crucial league points in front of bumper crowds.
Here at The72, we are also preparing ourselves for a hectic Christmas and New Year of action and in the true spirit of the festive season, we have come up with our ultimate Sky Bet Football League team which will bring plenty of festive cheer to fans of the 72 English Football League clubs.
The72 Sky Bet Football League Christmas XI – Formation: Christmas Tree (It just had to be didn’t it!)
Manager: Russell Sleighed (Grimsby Town) – With The Mariners sitting in mid-table in Sky Bet League Two, a greater win ratio will no doubt top the 57-year-old’s list for Santa (along with a woolly hat of course!).
Goalkeeper: Darren Rudolph (Middlesbrough) – The Republic of Ireland international thought that all of his Christmases had come at once when he joined Boro in the summer and the keeper should be flying high when the Teessiders take on struggling Bolton Wanderers at The Riverside Stadium on Boxing Day.
Left-back: Jake Carol (Cambridge United) – Everyone loves a good carol at Christmas, especially at The Abbey Stadium. Left-back Carroll has been well-tuned for The U’s this season with the player having already made 21 appearances in all competitions for the club.
Centre-back: Ricardo Santas (Barnet) – This former non-league defender is looking to avoid a freeze at the bottom of Sky Bet League Two with Barnet. Giving away gifts in the box will not be on the player’s agenda this Christmas with The Bees staring down at The National League.
Centre-back: Michael Reins (Crewe Alexandra) – Santa will be holding those reindeers’ reins tightly in less than three weeks time and the Crewe Alexandra defender will hope to keep things under control himself when The Railwaymen face a Boxing Day blockbuster at Chesterfield.
Right-back: Liam Shepherd (Yeovil Town) – The young defender is flourishing in his green surroundings of Yeovil, an isolated Somerset town known more for it’s fields than football. The footballing angels have not been so kind to Shepherd who must travel with his side to Cheltenham Town after his turkey and trimmings.
Midfielder: Andre Ever-Green (Aston Villa) – The young winger may have the luxury of extra time at home this Christmas as he continues to recover from surgery. Keeping off the chocolates is key for this player as he looks to return to the Villa side in the New Year with a real bang.
Miidfielder: Didier Nding Dong Merrily on High (Sunderland) – The midfielder could be Sunderland’s gold, frankincense and myrrh in the second half of the season as the club battle against another relegation. The player is currently sidelined with a knee injury so here’s hoping that nobody buys him Twister this Christmas.
Midfielder: Rohan Mince Pie (Bury) – The mince pies won’t be tasting all that sweet at Gigg Lane during the festive season with The Shakers in the bottom four of the Sky Bet League One table. Ince is enjoying plenty of game time in the North West and he will be hoping that Bury avoid being frozen out in the race for survival.
Attacking midfielder: Pelle Clementine (Reading) – The festive fruit will be in everything from Christmas pudding to wines and spirits over the Christmas period and the Reading midfielder will hope that his performances will be something which holds a potent punch rather than a Bucks Fizz.
Attacking midfielder: Luke Berry (Luton Town) – The midfielder is currently top of the tree with The Hatters storming their way to the summit in Sky Bet League Two. Luton Town could be hotter than an old log fire this winter with the club having hit 48 goals in just 20 league games. Berry will want to avoid being attacked by The Magpies as his club look to continue to hold on to top spot.
Striker: Lee Angol Gabriel (Mansfield Town) – The striker finds himself playing under The Stags’ managerial god Steve Evans after joining the club in the summer and the player is helping spread the message of promotion at Field Mill. Angol is Mansfield Town’s mighty one and with five goals in 16 appearances, the 23-year-old could be worth his weight in gold in the second half of the season.