Voting has started around the country for the PFA Scotland Player of the Year awards.
Representatives of the association are travelling around each team in the SPFL asking for their votes ahead of the awards being dished out nearer the end of the campaign.
And it got us thinking about who might sweep up the votes this season.
There’s no doubt Celtic will dominate proceedings given they’re unbeaten domestically up to this point and still in with a realistic chance of securing the treble.
But there are stars at other Scottish teams – and we fully expect them to be recognised by their peers.
So, we’ve had a bit of fun and predicted the PFA Scotland Team of the Year for the 2016/17 season – here are the results:
GK – Craig Gordon
It was too difficult to ignore a goalkeeper who’s marshalled his team to an unbeaten season domestically. Would Celtic have continued unbeaten had Dorus DeVries remained in goals? We doubt it. Celtic have shipped just 20 goals in the league so far this term and Gordon has been a huge part of that. Honourable mentions go to Joe Lewis, Wes Foderingham and Tomas Cerny, but Gordon should get the nod.
LB – Kieran Tierney
Arguably the easiest decision in the team, Tierney has been a mainstay for Celtic and developed into a left back more than capable of playing in Europe and internationally as well as domestically.
RB – Shay Logan
This would be Logan’s third Team of the Year appearance since signing for the Dons – and one we couldn’t deny him given it’s been another good season at Pittodrie. Derek McInnes’ defence has changed at time this season, but one constant has been Logan. Mikael Lustig might be aggrieved at missing out given Celtic’s form. However, Logan has been so important for Aberdeen and hasn’t done anything to suggest to us that Premiership players will go elsewhere with their votes this term.
CB – Liam Lindsay
The statistics don’t lie when it comes to Lindsay’s importance to Partick Thistle this season. If you ask yourself why Alan Archibald’s men have finished in the top six, his defence would be the answer – and Lindsay has been integral to that. They’ve conceded just eight goals in 14 games since the start of the year, losing just three times in that run. But Lindsay has also been important at the other end too, with the 21-year-old centre back pitching in with seven goals in all competitions. He could, and probably should, have been rewarded with a Scotland call-up, but we don’t expect his peers to play down how impressive he’s been this season.
CB – Jozo Simunovic
You could have picked any of three Celtic centre backs in this team, but Simunovic pips Erik Sviatchenko and Dedryck Boyata for us because of his consistency since returning from injury in September. Sviatchenko has been inconsistent at times, while Boyata has only been back playing in the team since the end of January so Simunovic deserves it for his quality at the back for Brendan Rodgers’ men. Expect him to be the first choice in some big games coming up over the run-in for Celtic.
CM – Scott Brown
Can you remember Brown ever being as good as he’s been this season for Celtic? Under Rodgers, he’s not only regained his form, but he’s taken his play on to a new level in an unbeaten team. There are plenty of good midfielders in the Premiership yet you’d struggle to find one as consistently good as Brown and that should ensure his place in the team. And – we’re pretty sure we’d be slaughtered all over the country if we failed to include a potential treble-winning captain.
CM – Stuart Armstrong
Armstrong appears to be the hot tip to finish the season holding the Player of the Year trophy given his unbelievable emergence for Celtic. Sure, he started the season as back-up to Brown, Nir Bitton and Tom Rogic, but it didn’t take him long to get his chance to play regularly and he hasn’t looked back since. He’s got 14 goals from midfield plus six assists and you’d expect him to add to that between now and the end of the campaign. A spot in the Team of the Year would simply be a bonus at the end of a season where he’s emerged as one of the league’s best players, earned a Scotland call-up and should be rewarded with a new deal to extend his stay at Celtic.
CM – Kenny McLean
Aberdeen fans probably couldn’t have expected that McLean would go on to be as important to their team as he is right now. One of the first names on Derek McInnes’ team sheet, the midfielder might not get the 10+ goals of, say, Armstrong or some other players in Scotland, but he brings so much with his build-up play and danger from set pieces. You get the feeling that if McLean can add regular goals and assists to his game then he’ll start becoming a regular feature in Gordon Strachan’s Scotland team. Until then, he’ll have to settle for a place in our predicted Team of the Year.
LW – Scott Sinclair
Do we have to explain? Sinclair has 23 goals and seven assists in 31 games this season. Another Player of the Year contender who is a certainty to be included.
RW – Kenny Miller
If Liam Boyce is reading this then we apologise. The Ross County man is one of the country’s top goal scorers with 16 strikes to his name this season, but he’s edged out by a player who’s proving age is just a number. Miller has 11 goals and four assists for Rangers – decent statistics proving he’s been important in a team that’s struggled at the top end of the league. But it’s the teams he’s scored against and the games he’s scored in that are important. Tight wins over Aberdeen, Motherwell, Dundee and Morton are all included as well as a goal against Celtic in the Hogmanay clash at Ibrox, there’s no doubting Miller is Rangers’ go-to guy in big games and for that we have to include him. It’s just madness that Rangers are even considering not extending his deal beyond the summer given his influence this season.
CF – Moussa Dembele
With 27 goals and five assists in all competitions this season, Dembele has been one of the breakout stars of the season – adding some impressive European form too. Adam Rooney, Louis Moult, Kris Doolan and Boyce have all done well, but they’ll admit that Dembele has been the standard for strikers in the league – as their defensive team-mates will no doubt tell them – so it’s only right he leads the line in this team.