Jackson's five: Johnnie's top Championship talents

As the January transfer window reaches its enthralling climax we asked Charlton's Johnnie Jackson to do a spot of scouting for Men United to see who we can sign for our team. We asked Johnnie to look out for men of substance, determination and strength.

He’s the longest serving player on the Charlton Athletic roster and Addicks skipper Jackson was delighted to become the latest high-profile recruit for Men United.

The talented midfielder, closing in on 150 appearances at The Valley, joined Addicks boss Chris Powell in backing Prostate Cancer UK’s quest to combat the killer disease.

A Championship stalwart in the last two seasons in SE7, the midfielder knows a fair bit about the second tier, and he offers an exclusive insight into a quintet of key performers in the division.

Who better to recommend talents than the players who face them every week? We're not saying it's Off the Wall but we hope there's a few Thrillers in his top five Championship stars.  You can follow Johnnie (pictured above playing against Millwall this season) on Twitter @johnnie_jackson

Men United

Kasper Schmeichel (Leicester City)

I played with Kasper at Notts County and always rated him as a keeper, and then to cement that he produced one of the best goalkeeping performances I’ve seen when Leicester came to The Valley in August.

We got our first win of the season against them, but we really should have beaten them by a mile. He was the difference, keeping the score down to 2-1 and keeping them in the hunt.

He was outstanding and pulled off three or four top saves and a few of our lads were left scratching their heads. I remember one header he clawed round the post was incredible, and it certainly left us thinking ‘wow he’s a bit special’.

In his younger days Kasper was often talked about in comparison to his dad, Peter, and many thought where he was where he was because of that. I had my reservations, but then I played with him and realised how good he was. He is a very good goalie. He’s chipped in with a few goals as well, which is always handy.

Benoit Assou-Ekotto (Queens Park Rangers)

It’s fair to say he’s the most casual man you will ever see play football, but you could tell he was a cut above. When we played them in November what stuck out was how he was so comfortable on the ball, and off the ball it doesn’t look like anybody is ever going to get round him as he’s pretty quick too. He just oozed class and it was very apparent on the day that he was a Premier League player playing in the Championship. He was very good.

I played off the front on that afternoon so was down the middle mainly, and I think Pritchy (Bradley Pritchard) played out wide and didn’t have any joy; he was too busy going the other way really.

I’ll imagine he will be back in the Premier League next season with QPR. Although teams have performed better against us this season, they were always comfortable and you get the feeling they will get the job done against most teams. They have an unbelievable squad and glancing at their bench on that day I saw some amazing options at the manager’s disposal. 

Andy Reid (Nottingham Forest)

I played with Reidy at Tottenham and know him well. He’s a lovely footballer with a great left foot and I share something in common with him given we have both skippered Charlton.

He’s got good feet and he’s scoring a few goals as well this year, and against us at The Valley he scored quite early, even though we should have done better with his free-kick from way out on the right.

He’s just a really good, really talented footballer, and he’s a good lad as well, and a sound fella off the pitch. People might not know, but he’s pretty decent on the guitar as well.

He’s back at Forest for a second spell and I know they love him there, and he’s fitter and leaner than I’ve seen him for a long time. He’s playing regularly as well and that probably has something to do with it.

When he was there before he was a bit of a hero and it’s been the same since he’s come back.

He captains the side and is just a top player. I’ve always had good battles with him when we’ve played and know each other quite well, so it always adds a bit of spice when we play each other.

When we played Forest I was expecting a really tough night. I didn’t play but the boys played really well, and felt like we should have won. They were hanging on at the end and after the match Forest boss Billy Davies came in our dressing room to congratulate us on our performance. You don’t see that very often.

Lewis McGugan (Watford)

I always liked him at Forest and it was a surprise to me when they let him go to Watford in the summer.

He scores a lot of goals and gets assists. He’s two-footed, energetic, gets up and down and he’s got a worldy in his locker as well. That great striking ability from from outside the box was very evident to us last season at The City Ground when he scored a cracker against us. Although the 2-1 final scoreline suggests a tight game, they schooled us for an hour that day and he was a prominent performer.

So it raised an eyebrow when he moved, and he’s pretty much carrying on in the same style with his new club. He’s scored a few goals already and is an integral part of their midfield and although we kept him relatively quiet when we went to Vicarage Road earlier this season, rest assured the guy can play.

Ross McCormack (Leeds United)

His individual performance at The Valley on November was as good a striking display I’ve seen in quite some time. We all knew he was a good player and were aware of what he could do, but to get four goals in a game is a bit special.

There were some great finishes among that, and clearly he was the difference on that afternoon. Watching that game against them, when I scored to make it 2-2 it looked like we were the only team that would go on and win it. On any other given day we would have done, but they had a player like him, and we didn’t. To score four goals was the difference between winning and losing and he’s been a regular source of goals for them all season.

He’s the sort of player that can do that, who can score you a goal out of nothing with a little bit of magic. He’s a match-winner, and they are not too many of them about.

On the day his third goal was a great volleyed finish but being super critical, I probably should have done a bit better. He pulled off of me from a free-kick but it was still a fine finish.

He then made it four with a superb free-kick, and that capped an outstanding personal display.

Johnnie has chosen his Jackson five top talents from the Championship. Do you agree? Let us know in the comments section below.

You can also read former Carlisle United and Leyton Orient star Leon McSweeney's top five League 1 talents here and Southend United's midfield dynamo Kevan Hurst top five League 2 talents here.

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