The EFL Championship playoffs kick off on Saturday, with the first two semi-finals in the tantalising end-of-season series to decide the third team to win promotion to the Premier League.
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Centre-back Fikayo Tomori, a graduate of the Chelsea academy, has enjoyed something of a breakout campaign in the second tier. He’s played 44 times, and while there are still some rough edges to his game, the defender’s poise and physical qualities have made him a major asset for the Rams.
The experienced Curtis Davies, who has Sierra Leonean origins, has been a bit-part player this season.
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Tammy Abraham has been the outstanding African talent in the Championship this season, having netted 25 goals in 37 outings to date, firing Villa away from midtable mediocrity to the brink of the Premier League.
The Anglo-Nigerian hitman was linked with a return to parent club Chelsea, or a move to Wolverhampton Wanderers, in the January transfer window, but remained with Villa and will be setting his sights on firing them back to the top tier.
He’ll be supported by the likes of Ahmed El Mohamady, Axel Tuanzebe and Albert Adomah, while Jonathan Kodjia appears to be returning to form at just the right time.
West Bromwich Albion
Ahmed Hegazi hit the ground running in the Premier League last season, after signing for West Bromwich direct from the Egyptian top flight.
He was unfortunate to drop out of the division, but always looked like he would be well suited to the gritty Championship. He’s thrived this term, establishing himself as one of the league’s best defences.
For a lot of the campaign, he’s featured alongside Anglo-Nigerian defender Tosin Adarabioyo, on loan from Manchester City, while Congolese wonderkid Jonathan Leko has made two appearances this term, and could yet be unleashed during the playoffs.