With a third of the Championship season having been played already the table is starting to take shape, and with both the top and bottom of the league being very congested it is shaping up to be another dramatic season for the English second tier.

There have been many stand out performances from individual players so far this campaign, from players playing for teams sitting at both ends of the table. Here we take a look at the top five performing under 23 players in the Championship, based on their performances and their importance to their side so far this season.

Neal Maupay – Brentford

Neal Maupay has enjoyed an excellent start to he season at Brentford and is currently the top scorer in the division with 11 goals, at an average of a goal every 110 minutes. The 22-year-old has also registered six assists so far meaning he has contributed to 17 of his sides 25 goals so far this season, a remarkable record for a player in just second season in the Championship, having joined The Bees from Ligue 1 side St Etienne in 2017.

Maupay is sure to attract plenty of interest from Premier League clubs in the January transfer window, but Brentford will be desperate to keep hold of their star striker, having already lost manager Dean Smith to Aston Villa this season. Whether in January or beyond that, Maupay will at some point play at higher level, Brentford supporters will be hoping his goals can fire both himself and the club to the Premier League this season.

Mason Mount – Derby County on loan from Chelsea

Derby County have made a promising start to the campaign in Frank Lampard’s first season in charge of The Rams, with Derby sitting in 5th place just two points off league leaders Leeds United. Mason Mount has played a key role in that fitting in seamlessly to Derby’s midfield since arriving on loan from Chelsea in the summer. The 19-year-old scored on his début against Reading on the opening day of the season and has continued to impress ever since, with his performances earning him a first ever call up to the full England international squad.

Mount has registered three goals and an assist so far in 15 Championship matches for Derby, and has also been highly influential to The Rams passing style, producing stand out performances in Derby’s recent wins against promotion rivals Sheffield United and West Bromwich Albion. He will be hugely important to Derby’s hopes of securing promotion to the Premier League this season, and then will probably be playing in the Premier League next season, whether at Chelsea or on loan at another club.

Harvey Barnes – West Bromwich Albion on loan from Leicester City

Harvey Barnes has been a revelation at The Hawthorns so far this season having arrived on loan from Leicester City in the summer. Operating in the role behind strikers Jay Rodriguez and Dwight Gayle in Darren Moore’s 3-4-1-2 formation, the 20-year-old has been a key part of West Brom’s solid start to the season, with The Baggies sitting in 7th place a point off the play-offs, after their relegation from the Premier League last season.

Barnes has registered five goals and three assists in his 15 Championship appearances so far, and has been hugely influential to West Brom’s prolific form in front of goal, with Moore’s side scoring 33 goals so far more than any other side in the division. There have been rumours that his parent club Leicester could recall him in January, but West Brom will be doing everything they can to prevent one of their key players from departing midway through the season as they aim to sustain a promotion challenge.

Ollie Watkins – Brentford

Ollie Watkins has produced some excellent individual performances so far for Brentford this campaign, especially in the opening weeks of the season as The Bees made an encouraging start before Dean Smith’s departure. The 22-year-old has scored six goals and registered two more in his 15 Championship appearances this season, meaning he has contributed to 32% of Brentford’s 25 league goals so far.

Watkins, who joined Brentford from Exeter City in 2017, has been linked with a move to the Premier League in the last few weeks. It will be vital that The Bees keep hold of one of their most influential attacking players as they look to rediscover their early season form before a recent dip saw them drop down the table.

Oliver McBurnie – Swansea City

Oliver, or Ollie, McBurnie has enjoyed a productive start to the season in what is his breakthrough year with Swansea City. The Scotland international impressed on loan at Barnsley, despite the Tykes eventually being relegated to League 1, in the second half of last season scoring nine goals in 17 games and winning Barnsley’s Player of The Year award despite only arriving in January.

Swansea’s relegation from the Premier League last season has provided McBurnie with an opportunity to become The Swans main striker this season, and he has grasped that opportunity with both hands, registering seven goals and producing two assists in 16 matches. That means the 22-year-old has contributed to exactly half of Swansea’s 18 league goals and highlights his importance to Graham Potter’s side, as they look to rebuild with a youthful squad following their relegation.

Honorable mentions go to Norwich City’s Jamal Lewis, Harry Wilson who is on loan at Derby County from Liverpool, Middlesbrough’s Dael Fry, Queens Park Rangers’ Eberechi Eze and Swansea City’s Joe Rodon. All of those players have been in good form this season and have made valuable contributions to their respective sides starts to the campaign.


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I am a sports journalism student based in Leeds. I am keen follower of the football league and enjoy sharing my opinions on all matters in the EFL. Follow me on Twitter @rushy_sport.

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