Awards season is just around the corner and, taking advantage of the boring bit (international break), we look ahead to which players will most likely receive a nomination for PFA Scotland’s Player of the Year award.
Scott Brown (Celtic)
At the very least, Scott Brown will get a Player of the Year nomination this season. Few Celtic individuals have received undiluted praise this term as several stars have regressed, but Brown is one exception to that. There’s also a feeling that he was harshly omitted from last year’s final four, and the impressiveness of continuing to play to such a standard well into his 33rd year. Also, he’s widely considered to be the most important man to stop if you want to better Celtic.
THE VERY LIKELY
James Forrest (Celtic)
With his 16 goals in all competitions, not to mention the surprise nature of his rise to Player of the Year candidacy when he looked set to be the forgotten man at Parkhead, he should also be assured of a place in the final four. Footballers who garner the most attention tend to be attacking players who score goals rather than defensive midfielders who dictate tempo. Because of this Forrest has the best chance of anyone to take the award from Brown.
THE OTHER CONTENDERS
Kieran Tierney (Celtic)
He may struggle to find himself among the top four just because he’s got two team-mates occupying the Celtic vote, both of whom have had better campaigns than he has. However, seeing as three of Brendan Rodgers’ stars made it last year, with onlookers believing they deserved a fourth, it all depends on how much respect is given the likely champions. He’s also got three goals and four assists and is undoubtedly one of the best defensive full-backs in the country.
Christophe Berra (Hearts)
The Hearts captain had a much better chance earlier in the season when the Tynecastle outfit were in the midst of a club record eight clean sheets in a row, of which he was viewed as playing a massive role in securing. However, results have since taken a turn for the worse and it’s now difficult to imagine the 33-year-old upsetting either Brown or Forrest from a team in sixth place. The early momentum could see him nab a nomination, though.
John McGinn (Hibs)
Viewed as Hibs’ talisman, McGinn’s peak probably came earlier in the season when he terrorised Celtic in a 2-2 draw at Parkhead. Since then he’s been good, if a little inconsistent, and may lose out to one of his team-mates in terms of a nomination. An explosive player capable of lighting up a match at a moment’s notice, he could easily play himself into the minds of voters with a particularly good fortnight come polling time.
Dylan McGeouch (Hibs)
His play coupled with a commendable comeback from chronic injury problems would make McGeouch a feel good option on ballots. While he’s not much of a highlight-reel player, known for his composure in possession and ability to orchestrate play from deeper areas, he has continually found himself praised for some of his performances against the top sides in the country.
James Tavernier (Rangers)
It’s been a massive improvement from the marauding right-back who has six assists and six goals to his name in the league this season. Aside from his attacking prowess, he has made strides as a defender and is no longer the complete liability at the back post he once was. A combination of the two could see him sneak in.
Josh Windass (Rangers)
Another in light blue who’s enjoyed a tremendous improvement this term, going from one goal netted across all of last season to a whopping 17 this time around. It depends on how much respect Rangers garner from voters as to whether he’ll sneak in, while team-mates are also likely to nab votes from him.
Alfredo Morelos (Rangers)
He gets a lot of criticism for his tendency to miss golden chances from inside the six-yard box with perplexing regularity, so he’ll probably miss out on a place in the final four, even if he’s still got a great chance of finishing the season as the league’s top goalscorer. Many defenders will still vote for him regardless as they’re respect his overall play and the fact he’s a nightmare to try and contain.
Kris Boyd (Kilmarnock)
If he’s still top goalscorer in the Ladbrokes Premiership when it comes time to cast those ballots then he’s got to be assured of a nomination. To do so at the age of 34 would be quite an achievement.
THE LONG SHOTS
Scott McKenna (Aberdeen)
He’s been great and probably has the best chance of any Aberdeen player, a team who still might finish second in the country. However, he didn’t start the season - making his first appearance in late September - and should expect a place among the Young Players list instead. It’s been a weird season for the Dons who, like Celtic, have saw regression from some of their better players (Joe Lewis, Shay Logan, Kenny McLean) but still have it in their own hands to repeat the success of last term.
Jon McLaughlin (Hearts)
He’s recognised as the best goalkeeper in the top flight this season, but it would be quite a shock if Hearts’ defensive record alone managed to earn one of their players a nomination and it wasn’t Berra. It would be an even bigger shock if two found their way there, though bottom six Dundee somehow managed it a couple of seasons back.
Daniel Candeias (Rangers)
He’s the leader in assists in the Scottish Premiership this season and, even though he might not grab as many headlines as some of his team-mates, his tireless work-rate makes him universally popular with the Rangers faithful, some of whom will be voting. It may seem strange to mention four Ibrox players in this article, seeing as they’ve still fallen below expectations, but it’s because they’ve been propped up by a few individuals, whereas Celtic and, especially, Aberdeen have excelled because of a strong collective.