DCFC Player of the Season 2011/12: The Contenders

With the season almost over I thought I’d take a look at the contenders for this season’s player of the season award.

This season there has been no real stand out performer but many players who have impressed this season. For the past 3 seasons the fans’ player of the season award has been won by a summer signing of that season- Rob Hulse 08/09, Shaun Barker 09/10, John Brayford 10/11. Here are my contenders for this season’s award.

Craig Bryson

He signed in the summer from Scottish side Kilmarnock. Bryson has a high work rate and get’s himself in some good positions going forward. The Scotsman has scored 5 goals this season and has cemented a place in Nigel Clough’s starting line-up. At some points during the second half of the season Nigel Clough has played Bryson out wide where he hasn’t looked as much at home as he is in the centre of the midfield.

Gareth Roberts

The Welsh left-back has improved considerably since last season which makes him a contender. He’s looked much more comfortable in the Derby team proving he is a good player at this level. His current contract expires at the end of this season but he is expected to sign a new deal. Read my player spotlight on Gareth Roberts- Player Spotlight.

Kyle de Silva (R) of Crystal Palace holds off the challenge of Gareth Roberts of Derby during the FA Cup sponsored by Budweiser Third Round match between Derby County FC and Crystal Palace FC at Pride Park on January 7, 2012 in Derby, England.

Theo Robinson

Theo is this season’s top top goalscorer, scoring 11 goals. Again, Robinson is someone who has improved since last season. He was only on loan for three months last season before signing permanently in the summer. Many fans criticised his performances last season and in the early parts of this season but he has since proved many of those supporters wrong. Since cementing a place in the starting line-up his game has heavily improved, becoming an important figure in the Rams’ season.

Jason Shackell

Shackell signed from South Yorkshire side Barnsley in the summer. He began the season as the Rams’ stand in skipper as usual captain Shaun Barker was sidelined. His debut goal against Birmingham City made him an instant hero and his consistent performance’s have made him a contender for the player of the year award. When Captain Shaun Barker returned from injury in November Shackell and Barker proved to be a formidable partnership in the heart of the Derby County defence. Unfortunately Shaun Barker suffered a knee injury in March which meant Shackell would take the armband for the reminder of the season.

Jeff Hendrick

The 20 year old has been a regular name in The Rams’ sides this season after only making four substitute appearances last season. Last season he was playing in the Rams’ youth side and has made the step up well to the second tier of English football well, not looking out of place. His goal against Nottingham Forest at the City Ground in September made him a big hit with the fans (who isn’t when they score such a great goal against Forest !). The Irish under-21 international is likely to win the club’s Young player of the year award.

Jamie Ward

The Northern Ireland international spent time on loan at Pride Park last season before signing permanently in the summer from Sheffield United. Derby’s number 10 started the season as a striker but has since regularly played on the wing. His goal against Nottingham Forest has been one of the best goals this season, Ward got past 3 or 4 Forest defenders to beat Lee Camp at his near post. He was certainly one of the stand out performers in the first half of the season but it’s fair to say he hasn’t been in the second half of the season. You have to have him in your team for magical moments ,like the goal against Forest, which is part of the reason that makes him a contender. His trickery and surging runs have made him a important part of Nigel Clough’s team.

Jamie Ward Dean Whitehead of Stoke City and Jamie Ward of Derby County battle for the ball during the FA Cup Fourth Round match between Derby County and Stoke City at Pride Park Stadium on January 28, 2012 in Derby, England.

Shaun Barker

The Derby County captain didn’t make his first appearance this season until November due to an injury he suffered last season. But when he returned from injury he formed a fantastic defensive partnership with fellow centre-half Jason Shackell. Like Shackell, Barker is one of the most consistent performers in the Derby team. The former Blackpool defender hasn’t played as many games as most players due to injury but his leadership and ‘heart on your sleeve’ type of play makes him a contender for player of the year. Since joining Derby in the summer of 2009 he has emerged as a favourite with the fans. In the game against Nottingham Forest in March Barker suffered an unfortunate knee injury that will keep him out for a year. It’s a shame such a good and infuencial player has struggled with injuries, We hope he makes a full and speedy recovery.

Twitter- @NMtherams

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