Thursday 23 May 2019

Darren Randolph sole Irish representative in PFA Championship Team of the Year

Darren Randolph does brilliantly to spread himself and block a close-range effort from Gavin Whyte of Northern Ireland. Photo: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile
Darren Randolph does brilliantly to spread himself and block a close-range effort from Gavin Whyte of Northern Ireland. Photo: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

Independent.ie Sportsdesk

Ireland goalkeeper Darren Randolph has been voted onto the Professional Footballers' Association Championship Team of the Year 2019.

Randolph has been selected having kept 19 clean sheets for Tony Pulis' team this season, despite Middlesbrough's inconsistent form. The Bray native is the only Irish player to make the cut in a team dominated by Norwich and Leeds. 

Finland forward Teemu Pukki is one of three players selected from the title-chasing Canaries. The division's 28-goal top scorer is joined by Canaries full-backs Max Aarons and Jamal Lewis.

Daniel Farke's side are top of the table with two games left and need just a point at home to Blackburn on Saturday to secure promotion back to the Premier League after a three-year absence.

Pukki joined on a free transfer from Brondby in the summer, while full-backs Aarons and Lewis are products of the club's academy.

Sheffield United are just three points behind the Canaries, with the pair now looking set to fight for the title. Blades duo Oliver Norwood and Billy Sharp both make the PFA selection.

Midfielder Norwood initially joined on loan from Brighton before making the move permanent in January and has notched three goals for Chris Wilder's side.

Striker Sharp has scored 23 league goals and in January became the top scorer in English league football this century, passing Rickie Lambert.

The 33-year-old and Pukki are joined up front by Aston Villa's Tammy Abraham, on loan from Chelsea.

The England Under-21 international has again underlined his credentials with 25 goals, which have helped drive Villa on towards securing a place in the top six.

Team-mate Jack Grealish is also included, despite missing three months of the campaign with a shin injury.

The midfielder returned in March and has helped inspire Dean Smith's side to a record 10 consecutive wins as they booked a play-off spot with a 1-0 victory over Millwall on Easter Monday.

Defeats to Wigan and Brentford over Easter look likely to force Leeds to settle for a play-off spot.

Nevertheless, centre-backs Liam Cooper and Pontus Jansson, along with winger Pablo Hernandez, have made the PFA XI, which was voted for by their fellow players.

Hernandez has scored 12 goals this season while Cooper and Jansson, who have both started 35 games, have formed the bedrock of Leeds' promotion challenge.

The players will be honoured at the PFA's annual awards ceremony in London on Sunday, April 28.

PFA Championship Team of the Year 2019: Darren Randolph (Middlesbrough), Max Aarons (Norwich), Liam Cooper (Leeds), Pontus Jansson (Leeds), Jamal Lewis (Norwich), Jack Grealish (Aston Villa), Oliver Norwood (Sheffield United), Pablo Hernandez (Leeds), Billy Sharp (Sheffield United), Tammy Abraham (Aston Villa), Teemu Pukki (Norwich)

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