Championship Play-off Final: Aston Villa and Fulham combined XI

With the play-off final nearly upon us, here's a look at what a combined Aston Villa and Fulham team could look like.

Championship Play-off Final: Aston Villa and Fulham combined XI
(Photo: John Patrick Fletcher/ Getty Images)

'The richest game in football' is fast approaching us and Aston Villa and Fulham are preparing to do battle at Wembley Stadium for the first time ever.

Over the course of the season you'd say these two teams deserve to be here after finishing third and fourth respectively. To do this you must have some top quality players and here's what a possible combined XI could look like.

Three at the back

Goalkeeper: Sam Johnstone

Arguably the best goalkeeper in the Championship, Sam Johnstone has won Aston Villa points on his own at times. His performance at home to Cardiff  City helped Villa to a 1-0 win, perhaps one of their biggest results of the season. The Manchester United loanee has kept 22 clean sheets in the Championship this season, second only to Wolves' John Ruddy. Whether Villa go up or not, there's a big chance Johnstone will be playing Premier League football next season.

Centre-back: James Chester

Chester has formed a formidable partnership with John Terry and has been a stalwart in the Aston Villa defence, playing all 46 league games. He has also contributed with a few goals too, his biggest perhaps coming in the 4-1 defeat of Wolves at Villa Park, becoming a fans' favourite in the process. 

Centre-back: John Terry

When John Terry signed for Aston Villa from Chelsea in the summer, not only was it unexpected but people began to write him off straight away. Terry has made 32 appearances for Villa and has lead the side fantastically well, playing a key part in a solid defence. If Villa are to get promoted, his experience will be vital next season.

Centre-back: Tim Ream

Somewhat of an unsung hero for Fulham, perhaps due to the focus on their prowess going forward but Ream has played his part in helping to keep 15 clean sheets in the league. The USA international sets the tone for the way this Fulham side plays football, often playing out from the back and has only missed two league games all season.

Fulham on top in midfield

Right wing-back: Ryan Fredericks 

One of the most undervalued players not only at Fulham, but in the Championship. A right-back that can defend but is also very exciting going forward. His performances have attracted Premier League interest and with nine assists from right-back, you can see why.

Centre-midfield: Tom Cairney

Compared to last season, Cairney has been relatively quiet, but he has still be a key cog in Fulham's midfield. Alongside McDonald and Stefan Johansen in the middle, he has chipped in with five goals and five assists. It is surely only a matter of time until Cairney is playing in the Premier League.

 

 

 

Centre-midfield: Kevin McDonald

Another of Fulham's unsung heroes, he often gets overlooked due to the number of goals and assists coming from his midfield partners. His role is slightly different however, he is their to break up the play and get the attacks going again for Fulham. He's managed to get three goals as well as an assist. 

Left wing-back: Ryan Sessegnon

After an incredible second half to the season, there were plenty of shouts for Ryan Sessegnon to be a part of the England squad for the World Cup. The 18-year-old has scored 15 goals and has six assists after being moved to playing further forward. The Championship player and young player of the season also scored and got an assist in the play-off second leg against Derby County. Quite a remarkable season.

Attacking midfield: Jack Grealish

Finally everyone is seeing the Jack Grealish that has been promised for years. After a slow start to the season, mainly due to injuries which meant he didn't play a game until November, Grealish has come to life and helped thrust Villa into the play-offs. A goal of the season contender against Cardiff and an outstanding individual performance against Wolves are just some of his highlights.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Two pronged strike-force

Striker: Lewis Grabban

Twenty goals in thirty-four league games this season for Grabban, with twelve of them being for relegated Sunderland before January is an impressive return. His eight goals for Villa have been important in their play-off chase and he will be hoping he can add to that tally against Fulham.

Striker: Aleksandar Mitrović

Perhaps the turning point in Fulham's season; they were nowhere to be found until the loan signing of Mitrovic in January. Twelve goals and one assist in 17 league games had Fulham on the brink of automatic promotion. His signing has also gotten the best out of Ryan Sessegnon and that partnership will be key at Wembley on Saturday.

Not forgetting...

Of course there are some players from both sides that are very unlucky to have missed out on this team. Albert Adomah actually finished the season as Aston Villa's top scorer with 14 goals, but finds himself very unlucky to be up against Ryan Sessegnon, Robert Snodgrass has also had a good season but doesn't quite fit the formation.

Stefan Johansen, Tomáš Kalas and Conor Hourihane all also have good cases to be included.