The 25 Best Players in the Championship – as voted for by you: Part 23 of 25

People are beginning to talk about Jacob Butterfield. Not just Barnsley fans. All kinds of people are beginning to sit up and take notice of the midfielder as he continues to impress at Oakwell. John Verrall is one of a growing number of fans.

Jacob Butterfield (Barnsley)

They were, perhaps rather harshly, cast as relegation candidates at the start of the season by many but nobody is predicting that any more. In fact, their excellent form has gone relatively unnoticed by the media. Under Keith Hill’s leadership, Barnsley currently sit just five points off the play-offs and occupy a mid-table spot.

A major influence in their impressive start has been the consistent performances of central midfielder Jacob Butterfield. At just 21, Butterfield was handed the captaincy by Hill, making him the youngest ever skipper for the Tykes, and he hasn’t looked back. With an excellent technical ability, the youth product has shone in the former Rochdale manager’s template, which encourages his side to get the ball down and keep possession.

At the heart of the side, Butterfield is integral to the success of Hill’s approach and he is the player that Barnsley rely on in an attacking sense — taking the most shots in the entire team — and one who they expect to be able to impose their style of play on the opposition. It’s fair to say that when Butterfield plays well, Barnsley generally do.

Plaudits have come in thick and fast for the central midfielder with recent reports linking him with a move to Aston Villa in the January transfer window. He has also received his first England Under-21 international cap after his series of excellent displays in the centre of the park this season and the future looks bright but Wilky, editor of Barnsley blog On The Ponty End, says he still has a lot to learn.

“Butterfield is proving himself as a valuable Championship talent, who still has much more potential to develop in his game, especially defensively”, he says. “He is perhaps listening to his own hype a little bit too much, although his stock has risen, it’s based on limited experience. He would do well to remain at Barnsley FC or at another Championship club for a good year or two in my opinion as the Premier League is too big a leap.”

And with his contract running out in the summer, Butterfield’s future looks uncertain. Contract talks loom, but the Bradford-born midfielder is yet to commit his future to Oakwell — further suggesting that he is listening to the current hype surrounding him.

The fact that he is slotting in so well in the Championship after playing less than 90 Football League games suggests that Butterfield has bags of talent. That talent will need to be nurtured though and it is only under Hill’s leadership, which has played directly to his strengths and made him the fulcrum of the team, that he has thrived. It all suggests that staying at the Yorkshire club may be the best option for Butterfield at the moment.

Who else did you vote as one of the 25 best players in the Championship? Read about the rest so far here.

The Seventy Two
The Seventy Two published an outstanding series of articles about the Football League between 2010-12 and was the brainchild of Leicester City fan, David Bevan. As well as collaborating with The Two Unfortunates on the Football League Blog Network and a mammoth 2011-12 season preview, the site featured a host of leading bloggers and David was rewarded with a nomination in the 2011 Football Supporters’ Federation awards. Latterly, he was joined as co-editor by Joe Harrison and TTU is happy to present this archive of the site’s output.

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