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Can Championship strikers cut it in the Premier League?

Following a fairytale rise from League Two to the Championship, everybody is asking whether Rickie Lambert (pictured) be able to cut it in the Premier League.

And, after a stunning season that has seen the former Rochdale and Bristol Rovers man notch 27 league goals for Southampton, the consensus is that he will.

Unfortunately, history is against him. For while many have risen from the second tier and prospered, few have done so after winning the golden boot.

In fact, in the last ten years only two Championship top scorers have managed double figures in the Premier League – Crystal Palace’s Andy Johnson and Swansea’s Danny Graham – with the rest coming up well short.

Here is what befell them…

2001-02 – Shaun Goater

28 goals (Man City) / 7 (Man City)

Feed the goat and he will score – just not in the Premier League, where he managed only seven goals. He did however, notch his 100th City goal in the Manchester Derby and was given the freedom of his native Bermuda.

2002-03 – Svetoslav Todorov

26 (Portsmouth) / 0 (Portsmouth)

One of the saddest footballing stories. Bulgarian Todorov was Pompey’s talisman in the Championship but ruptured his cruciate ligament just days before the start of the Premier League season. Out for two years, he was never the same player again.

2003-04 – Andy Johnson

27 (Crystal Palace) / 21 (Crystal Palace)

What a way to buck the trend. Thanks largely to a knack of both winning and scoring penalties, Johnson finished as the highest English scorer in the Prem and second only to Thierry Henry in the overall standings. Palace still went down, mind.

2004-05 – Nathan Ellington

24 (Wigan) / 7 (West Brom)

As part of a Wigan dream team with Jason Roberts, Ellington’s form in the second tier led to a bid of £3m from West Brom. Alas, he would leave the Baggies in August 2007 having managed just 15 goals in two seasons.

2005-06 – Marlon King

21 (Watford) / 4 (Watford)

Having scored twice by October, King wouldn’t score again until the final two games of the season after a knee injury kept him out for six months. Watford went down.

2006-07 – Jamie Cureton

23 (Colchester) / not promoted

One of just three men on this list who didn’t go up, the veteran striker moved to Norwich for £825,000 immediately after winning the golden boot but scored just 16 goals in three years at Carrow Road

2007-08 – Sylvan Ebanks-Blake

23 (Plymouth & Wolves) / not promoted

The ex-Man United speedster wouldn’t get a chance this year but…

2008-09 – Sylvan Ebanks Blake

25 (Wolves) / 2 (Wolves)

Up at the second time of asking, much was expected of the jet-heeled England U-21 star, but it just didn’t happen. The 26-year-old’s only two goals came from the penalty spot and he has spent the last two years stuck behind Kevin Doyle.

2009-10 – Peter Whittingham

22 (Cardiff) / not promoted

In a barren year for Championship strikers, midfielder Whittingham took the crown with a string of long rangers, penalties and set pieces. Still at Cardiff.

2010-11 – Danny Graham

27 goals (Watford) / 13 (Swansea)

Plucked from Carlisle, the former Middlesbrough trainee was unstoppable alongside Marvin Sordell last season and has since proved his worth as the powerful spearhead of Swansea’s front three. A flat-track bully, all but one of his goals have come against sides in the bottom half.

By Chris Dunlavy, The Football League Paper

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