Championship: Chuba Akpom, Viktor Gyokeres, Oscar Estupinan in race for 2022/23 Golden Boot

Aleksandar Mitrovic set a new Championship record of 43 goals during Fulham’s promotion season in 2021/22.

The year before that, Ivan Toney scored 31 as Brentford were promoted to the Premier League for the first time of asking.

With both players currently in the top flight, there is certain to be a new Golden Boot winner at the end of the 2022/23 Sky Bet Championship season.

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So, with 20 matches remaining, we take a look at the players currently leading the way at the top of the second tier scoring charts…

Chuba Akpom, Middlesbrough – 13 goals

It is certainly fair to say the way Chuba Akpom has burst into life this term has been a shock. The Arsenal academy graduate had never really set the world alight in England prior to this term and it was only during two separate spells with PAOK in Greece that he started to fully show the potential the Gunners once saw.

The 27-year-old has flourished under Michael Carrick this term, though. Since the former Manchester United midfielder took over at the Riverside on October 24, Akpom has netted 10 goals in 11 matches in all competitions, all of which have been scored inside the box.

Boro have won seven of those matches and thus firmly ensconced themselves in the Championship promotion race.

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Such form saw him linked with a move back to the Premier League, but the Teesside club have since moved quickly to take up the option to extend Akpom’s contract until the summer of 2024.

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Middlesbrough head coach Michael Carrick praises the form striker Chuba Akpom has shown in the Championship this season and says he hopes to keep his best players in the transfer window

Carrick has also praised the striker in the press. “He’s obviously got his headlines with the goals, but he’s given us a lot more than that. He’s a player we’re delighted to have,” he said.

Settled, in-form and, most importantly, clearly wanted by his employers, Akpom is thriving and it will take something special to displace him as the league’s in-form frontman.

Viktor Gyokeres, Coventry – 12 goals

Following a short loan spell from Brighton during the 2020/21 season, Viktor Gyokeres signed for Coventry permanently in January 2021 and has proved himself as one of the division’s best strikers in the two years since.

The Sweden international has made himself at home at the Coventry Building Society Arena and is the seventh-highest scorer in the Championship over the past three campaigns with 32 goals.

He has admitted there is more in his locker, too. He told Sky Sports in December: “You can always improve, things you’re good at and things you’re not so good at. One thing I need to improve is my heading. I don’t score enough of those.”

Sky Blues boss Mark Robins labelled Gyokeres as “priceless” in November, and he will be hoping to keep hold of him in the January transfer window, with teams such as Everton, Leeds and Brentford reported to be showing an interest in the 24-year-old.

Oscar Estupinan, Hull – 11 goals

A new import to the Championship this term, Oscar Estupinan scored seven in his first Hull appearances this term and then, when the Tigers went off the boil, so did he.

Perhaps it was partly down to Shota Arveladze’s sacking. During an interview with Sky Sports in September, he said: “The fact that he provides me with tips to improve as a player means a lot. It shows that he believes in my development and wants to show my best at the best level. I hope I can keep learning with him and the team as a whole.”

When the Georgian was sacked on September 30, he scored just once in the next nine games. But he does now appear to have found his feet under Liam Rosenior, with one goal in each of his last three league games.

Carlton Morris, Luton – 10 goals

Whatever happens from here on in, Carlton Morris has already had, statistically, the best season of his career to date. The 27-year-old had impressed for Barnsley over the past two seasons, but never surpassed nine goals in a single campaign.

In fact, he had only once done that in his entire career, when he scored 10 in 54 games for Shrewsbury in 2017/18.

But since joining Luton, he has scored 10 in 25 games already. “I feel like I am going to create chances or score goals every game and that’s a place where I thrive,” he told Sky Sports in an exclusive interview last year.

In addition to his own good fortune in front of goal, Morris has also chipped in with his fair share of assists, with four in the league and five in all competitions.

Zian Flemming, Millwall – 10 goals

Zian Flemming arrived in England in the summer with a decent reputation, having racked up 38 goal involvements in 63 matches over the last two seasons with Fortuna Sittard in his native Netherlands.

The Dutchman has settled incredibly well into life in the Championship and thrived as a result of Gary Rowett tweaking his system to utilise Flemming as an attacking midfielder, which has helped the Lions up to sixth in the table.

He has sparkled in front of goal at The Den this term and scored a number of stunning goals, though is somehow yet to win the Sky Bet Championship Goal of the Month award.

The best of the rest…

This race is bound to have many twists and turns throughout the second half of the season, particularly because there are 14 players within five goals of the total that Chuba Akpom currently leads the way with.

So who are the other contenders?

Players on nine goals: Iliman Ndiaye (Sheffield United), Ben Brereton Diaz (Blackburn), Ross Stewart (Sunderland), Jay Rodriguez (Burnley), Josh Sargent (Norwich), Will Keane (Wigan), Jerry Yates (Blackpool), Oli McBurnie (Sheffield United), Scott Hogan (Birmingham).

Players on eight goals: Teemu Pukki (Norwich), Nahki Wells (Bristol City), Nathan Tella (Burnley), Joao Pedro (Watford), Joel Piroe (Swansea).

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