Team of the week: The Championship

Two games in the space of four days for all the Championship teams saw 57 goals, 10 home wins, 5 away wins and 9 draws. But who made it into The72 festive team of the week? Find out here.

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Shay Given – Middlesbrough – The veteran Irish international keeper has been a vital addition to Boro since joining on loan in November adding experience to the young side. He was on top form in their two games over the past four days with some crucial saves aiding his team to two wins with consecutive clean sheets. Boro are now on a run of three straight wins to nil and will be looking to extend Given’s loan deal with there trip to Bolton his last scheduled game before his current deal ends.
Daniel Ayala – Middlesbrough – Another member of the renewed Boro backline that was unpentrabable over the Christmas week. The Spaniard, on loan from Norwich joining in October, has been a tower at the back for his side commanding the aerial duels and quick over the ground to deal with nimble forwards. Boss Aitor Karanka will be looking to extend Ayala’s loan which is due to expire at the end of January as the Teesside club make a surge up the table.
Jamaal Lascelles – Nottingham Forest – The young defender is rapidly establishing himself as one of the bright young defenders in the Championship. Playing at the heart of the Forest defence alongside Jack Hobbs, Lascelles helped Forest to successive victories against promotion rivals Leeds and QPR. The Englishman played very well to keep Rangers at bay on boxing day and followed that up by keeping the leagues in form front man Ross McCormack quiet for the majority of the game at the City Ground.
Murray Wallace – Huddersfield Town – Wallace is another of the leagues bright young prospects and is seeing the benefits from playing week in week out in a competitive league. Four points over the two games was a good return for Town as they hosted Derby County on Boxing day and ended their run of seven straight wins with a well fought draw. This was followed a much quieter day for the Scot as Huddersfield showed their class in a 5-1 demolition of Yeovil.
Matt Upson – Brighton – A second appearance in the team of the week for Uspon in a few weeks as his great form continues for the Seagulls. Unfortunate to come away with nothing on Boxing day at Charlton, Upson and his side responded well when they travelled north to Blackpool. A battling performance aided by a robust back line returned Brighton to winning ways in a 1-0 victory at Bloomfield Road.
Emmanuel Ledesma – Middlesbrough – The revival of Ledesma has been a joy to watch over the past few games as he has gone from the shadows in the North East to the forefront of Championship headlines in the national papers. To follow up his match winning display last weekend, he scored the winner at home to high flying Burnley on Boxing day and caused all sorts of problems for Reading culminating when he won a penalty late on to round off a great week for both himself and Middlesbrough football club.
Danny Drinkwater – Leicester City – The engine room of the Foxes midfield continues to purr as they stretched their lead at the top of the Championship table to four points going into the New Year. The leaders were just one of three teams to win both their games in the past four days and they showed signs of why they are most peoples favourites for the title. Drinkwater battled against the robust Reading to secure a 1-0 win before an expansive performance against Bolton to grab the headlines. The eight goal thriller which featured six goals in the first half started with a great strike from Drinkwater and ended with the Foxes as 5-3 winners.
Craig Bryson – Derby County –  It may seem like a broken record with Bryson’s name being at the heart of the midfield in the team of the week, but you can not disregard his consistent level of performance for the Rams. He has netted enough goals to be the top scorer at a number of sides in the Championship and add in his assists and you have to think what a prize asset he is to Derby. Bryson gave his side the lead at Huddersfield scoring for his fourth game in succession, before being pegged back which ended their winning run. However, another one was soon started at the weekend with a gritty win at strugglers Barnsley with Byrson showing the workman side to his game.
Lloyd Dyer – Leicester City – Dyer is known around the league as one of the most skilful and quality wingers in the division and has been a feature of the Foxes recent success. He was at his best in Leicester’s back to back wins post-Christmas with an effective display against Reading with little to show for it and an assist and the eventual winner in the eight goal thriller at the King Power at the hands of Bolton.
Greg Halford – Nottingham Forest – Halford is the definition of a utility man often featuring in positions raging from full back to centre midfield but rarely has he performed up front. It seems however, that Billy Davies has had a master stroke over Christmas. A goalscorer would have been the top of his Christmas list and it seems he had one in his ranks all along. The big man shocked many when he started upfront for Forest against QPR, but got on the score sheet to earn the victory. Then full of confidence he opened the scoring on Sunday with a great header in the first half to help Forest to a second win in four days.
Chris Martin Derby County – The front man has kicked on throughout December and continued that till the end of the month with a further two goals to help Derby climb up into the automatic promotion places. He did miss another penalty which would have continued there winning run at Huddersfield, but he responded well when the Rams travelled to Barnsley netting twice in the first half to secure the points in a game when Derby were far from their best.

Star man

Emmanuel Ledesma: The stand out player from the back to back games with a match winner and a fine display to help his side to three wins in succession and just six points off of the play offs. Special mention goes to Greg Halford who netted twice in two games playing up front for the first time in years two help Forest secure their position in the top six.
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