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4 players who have taken the Championship by surprise

We all knew Dwight Gayle would bang them in, and we all knew Daniel Ayala would keep them out – but whose performances have taken the Championship by surprise?

Moritz Leitner – Norwich

An itinerant career in Europe and an inauspicious 12-game loan spell at Carrow Road last term ensured a lukewarm reaction when Norwich signed the German midfielder on a four-year deal in June.

This, after all, was a guy who’d managed just 17 games in three years for the likes of Augsburg, Lazio and Borussia Dortmund. But the 25-year-old – on the bench for Dortmund in the 2012-13 Champions League final – has oozed class from day one, his composure in possession and eye for goal integral to the Canaries’ slick counter-attacking style.

Kemar Roofe – Leeds

Winger? Striker? No.10? For a couple of years it seemed nobody at Leeds United knew what to do with the former Oxford man.

Marcelo Bielsa, though, took one look at Roofe, deployed him as a centre-forward and watched the goals flow. Only three players – Billy Sharp, Dwight Gayle and Neal Maupay – have scored at a faster rate than the 25-year-old and it is no coincidence that Leeds’ results took a nosedive when injury ruled him out for six weeks.

Bradley Dack – Blackburn

Spectacular in League One last year, everybody knew Dack had talent. But could the 25-year-old transfer it to the Championship?

You bet. No midfielder in England has surpassed his 11 goals so far; not many have reproduced his bursts of skill and invention. “He plays every game like he’s down the park with his mates,” said Rovers gaffer Tony Mowbray. “I love him.”

With West Brom preparing a £10m bid in January, it looks a doomed romance.

Dack attack: Blackburn midfielder Bradley Dack courted interest from West Brom in the summer (Photo: PA Images)

Joe Lumley – QPR

Picture the scene. You’re a 23-year-old keeper, yet to start a Championship match. Your team has started the season with four straight defeats, shipping 13 goals in the process. The back four is shakier than a bag of bones.  Then the manager chucks you in. Daunting? Undoubtedly, yet Lumley has responded with seven clean sheets from 14 games, providing a confident and vocal foundation for a rapid rise up the table. Outstanding.

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