The 12 PFA Scotland Young Player of the Year hopefuls

Broken into three categories, the youngsters who are in with a chance

If the global coronavirus pandemic ultimately moves Scottish football's governing body, or perhaps even Uefa, to end the 2019/20 season without playing another match, there is still the small matter of individual awards. Previously we looked at the Player of the Year award and the most deserving contenders, with Odsonne Edouard the popular choice. Now it's time to look at the PFA Scotland Young Player of the Year contenders. Any player who started the season as 21 or younger is eligible to be nominated.

THE STRONG CONTENDERS

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Odsonne Edouard (Celtic)

Jeremie Frimpong has starred as a teenager for Celtic this season. Picture: SNS

Will surely win the award unless voters forget that he's still eligible. He's scored 28 goals in all competitions, starring for Celtic in the league, on the continent and came off the bench to make a telling impact in the Betfred Cup final victory over Rangers. Alfredo Morelos' barren spell in 2020 has firmly vaunted Edouard to the status of best player in Scottish football and, unless his peers are too distracted by giving him the main Player of the Year award, he will win this prize.

Lewis Ferguson (Aberdeen)

A nominee last year, don't be too surprised to see him fail to pick up one this term as, like Edouard, people may forget about his age. Incredibly, despite this being his third season of regular and consistently strong first-team performances, Ferguson is still only 20. His candidacy might also be hindered by the fact this is a very 'meh' Aberdeen season, but that would be a shame. For a club that made several noticeable centre-midfield signings this term, he has remained their best player at the position.

Aaron Hickey (Hearts)

Hearts being bottom of the league could hurt his case, but it shouldn't. When this sorry season is over for the Jam Tarts - if it isn't already - then Hickey is one of the few who should be proud of his performances. He's been their best player, and certainly most consistent, behind veteran full-back Michael Smith. Not only does he display youthful exuberance to get up and down the wing, he's also a very solid defender. At just 17 years of age, he's got a huge future ahead of him. Luckily for all of us, what with the strength in depth at left-back for Scotland, he can also kick comfortably with his right foot.

Ali McCann (St Johnstone)

If Edouard doesn't get the award then this is the man who should. McCann has been a revelation for St Johnstone this campaign and their best player over the course of the almost-season. Even when they were struggling mightily and embroiled in a relegation dogfight before December, he continued to impress. And since they've improved their performances to shoot up the table, he's gone up a level with the rest of his team-mates. A dogged worker, he's also a composed passer and a threat in the opposition box.

IN THE MIX

Kristoffer Ajer (Celtic)

It's not been a terrific campaign by the Norwegian's typically high standards. He's been good. A footballer can't be an almost ever-present in the back four of the champions-elect and be anything other than solid. But he just hasn't quite kicked on to become a monstrous defensive force in Scottish football as expected. That and the familiarity will rob him of votes, though seeing as he plays for the quadruple-treble favourites don't be too surprised to see him sneak into the nominations.

Allan Campbell (Motherwell)

Motherwell have been the third best team in Scottish football up to this point in time, so it would be fitting to reward one of their more consistent performances with a nomination for this award. Allan Campbell has just continued to do Allan Campbell things: crunched into tackles, covered every blade of grass, linked midfield and attack, and made telling contributions at either end of the park.

Jeremie Frimpong (Celtic)

If he'd played a bit more he'd be an absolute shoo-in. It's rare to see an 18-year-old (now 19) make the kind of impact he did when he first broke into the Celtic starting XI, particularly for the full-back. There was a period where he was their best player in every game. Since then injuries have forced him in and out of the team, as has the immense competition at right-back, limiting his appearances to 19 in all competitions. Given the strength of the other contenders, that just isn't enough football.

Greg Taylor (Celtic)

Unless voters go Celtic daft, Taylor is the most unlikely of all the players mentioned so far to bag himself a nomination. It took him a while to cement his place as Celtic's first-choice left-back as Neil Lennon finally gave up on Boli Bolingoli, and when he did he was steady, not unspectacular. It's a pity because he would previously have deserved a nod for his play at Kilmarnock over the last couple of seasons, but the lack of exposure as a consistent full-back at Rugby Park wasn't enough to vault him into the conversation.

THE LONG SHOTS

Callum Hendry (St Johnstone)

There's been a strong improvement from the striker who has enjoyed his most fruitful season to date at McDiarmid Park, netting nine times in all competitions and seven in the Scottish Premiership top flight. There's been a development in his general play also, as he's used his mix of size and mobility to be a constant handful for defences and is now viewed as Saints' second best attacker behind Stevie May. Deserves plaudits for his success, though it's not enough to earn a gong.

Cammy MacPherson (St Mirren)

The diminutive but tenacious midfielder has been a regular member of the St Mirren squad this campaign, making 23 appearances to improve on the 17 last term in his breakout season. He struggled a little earlier in the term to cement a place in the team, but has started every single one of his 12 appearances in 2020 thus far. If he'd been undroppable from the off then he'd have had a much stronger chance.

Robby McCrorie (Queen of the South/Livingston)

The presence of Hearts, Hibs and Rangers in the second tier told Scottish football fans something they previously didn't consider: you can still win the PFA Scotland Young Player of the Year award even if you don't play in the top flight. With the two stand-outs from the Championship, Lawrence Shankland and Kevin Nisbet, too old to qualify, McCrorie probably stands the best chance of representing the division. He was the best keeper in the second tier for Queens and, though he's had a couple of dodgy moments at Livingston, he has mostly impressed and remains their No.1.

Lewis Smith (Hamilton Accies)

The final selection was a toss up between Smith and fellow Accies team-mate Luke Southwood. The latter has been a strong addition in goals despite being undersized for a goalkeeper, making a number of impressive stops. But if anyone from Accies is going to get a nod, it'll be Smith. He may not always command a start, but he's a direct and exciting attacker who's chipped in with a good few goals and assists.

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