Celtic stronghold in SPFA awards

CELTIC dominate the nominations for the Scottish Professional Footballers' Association player of the year, with Shunsuke Nakamura, Lee Naylor and Artur Boruc all in contention for the prestigious award.

Aberdeen captain Russell Anderson is also in the running as the only challenger to the Parkhead monopoly, which extends into the Young Player of the Year category, where Aiden McGeady has been nominated alongside Charlie Adam of Rangers, Hibernian's Scott Brown and the Kilmarnock forward Steven Naismith.

Footballers across Scotland vote for the awards themselves but are unable to nominate one of their own team-mates. The ceremony will take place at Glasgow's Thistle Hotel on Sunday, 22 April.

Celtic's success this season as runaway leaders of the SPL and Scottish Cup semi-finalists has seen three players from one club put forward for the main award for the first time. McGeady admitted yesterday that he opted for Anderson in the nominations, while Naylor chose the Falkirk forward Alan Gow.

But both were in tandem when asked about who they believe should receive the accolade.

"It's difficult to choose between them," admitted McGeady. "Naka has been different class, while Naylor wasn't well known when he came here but has become one of the most consistent players in the league. Artur's performances in Europe have shone above everyone else.

"I would say Naka because some of the things he has done this season have been outrageous. But it's a tough decision."

Naylor added: "Aiden has had a really good season and Naka comes up with something special in almost every game. It's hard to choose but I would probably go for Naka."

McGeady, 21, has been nominated for the young player award before but believes he is a more worthwhile candidate this season, following impressive displays in the SPL and the Champions League.

"I'm very happy to be nominated," he said. "It's a great privilege. It's good to be regarded alongside players like Steven Naismith, Scott Brown and Charlie Adam and it's pleasing to be rewarded for your performances over the season.

"I was nominated a couple of seasons ago although I don't think I was really in with a shout. I'm not saying I'm going to win it this year but I have more of a chance than I did before. This season I have been more consistent."

Anderson is delighted to be rivalling the Celtic triumvirate for the main award, but testified that his colleagues at Aberdeen deserve praise of their own. "While it's nice to be nominated for such a prestigious award, it's as much a reflection of how the team has performed this season," said the defender. "That said, when it's your peers who are voting it means that bit more and, naturally, I am delighted."

Nominations for the First Division player of the year are Colin McMenamin of Gretna, Partick Thistle's Mark Roberts and the St Johnstone pair Jason Scotland and Goran Stanic. The Second Division's equivalent will be contested between Stirling Albion's Chris Aitken, Iain Russell of Brechin City and Morton pair Paul McGowan and Peter Weatherson, who could clinch the league title this weekend.

Due to a tie in the voting, five players are in the running for the Third Division player of the year: Scott Chaplain of Albion Rovers, East Fife's Neil Jablonski, Martin Johnston of Elgin City, David Weatherston of Queen's Park and Berwick Rangers' Garry Wood.