We’re soon approaching award season and having looked at the candidates for a SPFA Player of the Year award nomination yesterday, now it’s time to look at those most likely to earn a Young Player of the Year nod.
Note: players must be 21 or younger when the season starts to qualify.
Moussa Dembele (Celtic)
Dembele should win the Young Player of the Year award, and do so by an absolute landslide. He’s battered in the goals for Celtic all season (32 and counting) and gave Champions League defenders a run for their money. However, as many people have pointed out, you often forget he is still only 20 years old. It’s probably because Scottish football as a collective wasn’t too familiar with the player prior to his arrival. As such he didn’t have the gradual rise we see in homegrown youngsters. He arrived, had a six-week bedding in period, and then BANG! He was the best player in the league. Some may forget he’ll eligible award when it comes to casting their votes.
Kieran Tierney (Celtic)
If Dembele doesn’t win it then Tierney is certain to retain his title. As good as he was last year, he’s got even better this term. Celtic boss Brendan Rodgers has encouraged him to be more attacking and most games he acts like a left-winger rather than a full-back, and to devastating effect. At only 19 years of age the sky is the limit.
Liam Lindsay (Partick Thistle)
The centre-back has made major strides this season, becoming his club’s most accomplished defender at the age of 21. Thistle fans are hoping they can secure close to a £1million fee for his services when it comes time for the club to cash in on their asset. For a centre-back so young he makes few mistakes, while he’s got the build and athleticism to be a top class player. He’s also found the back of the net on seven occasions.
Barry McKay (Rangers)
McKay has been solid enough in the top flight but has fallen short of the performances which saw him nominated for the Young Player of the Year award last year, when his club were still in the second tier. There is another top flight talent who is more deserving of a nomination (we’ll get to him) but the inflated profile of both player and club means McKay will likely be named among the four finalists.
Cammy Kerr (Dundee)
If voters look past the big name then they should vote Kerr on to the four-man nominations list. The right-back has taken huge strides this season and is arguably his club’s Player of the Year. He combines a galloping running style with a terrific engine to contribute at both ends of the park from the right flank. Paul McGinn’s departure last summer appeared to be a significant blow at the time. In hindsight, it was the best thing for Kerr’s development, and Dundee might even have a better right-back because of it.
Jason Cummings and John McGinn (Hibs)
These two were nominated for last year’s award. Therefore, it’s not completely out of the realm of possibility that they’ll be nominated again, even though neither has been as outstanding as they were last term. They each have a larger reputation than Kerr or Lindsay and play for a bigger club, which might be enough. Of the two, Cummings is perhaps more likely. He’s the Championship’s leading scorer with 16 goals. McGinn, meanwhile, has continued to earn praise but, like Dembele, his continued presence in the Scotland squad may mean he’s overlooked by some voters who forget how young he is.
Greg Taylor (Kilmarnock)
Considering Taylor only turned 19 halfway through the season and had played a grand total of two games prior to this campaign, his bid for a Young Player of the Year nomination is highly impressive. He’s already established himself as Killie’s first-choice left-back and has shown remarkable consistency in a team that seems to completely reinvent itself on a monthly basis.
Craig Sibbald (Falkirk)
This is a complete long-shot and there’s very little chance he’ll actually receive a nomination, but if McGinn and/or Cummings get one it’ll be a real shame, because Sibbald would deserve it more. A highly-rated prospect ever since he burst into the team at the age of 16, this has been the season where he’s managed to put it all together. He’s netted ten goals from midfield and continues to shine on a Falkirk side pushing for promotion.