It’s the time of year when Norwich City supporters will be casting their vote for the club’s player of the season and with so many star performers this term, it’s a tough call.
For me, there are three stand-out contenders and a host of others who could also be in the running. And the fact that there are so many worthy candidates shows how well the Canaries have performed in 2009/10.
I’ll start with the ‘possibles’ and one player who really has come on leaps and bounds is young midfielder Korey Smith. The Academy product was thrust into the starting eleven in Paul Lambert’s first game back in August and he hasn’t looked back since.
Displaying energy, passion and commitment in equal measure, the boy can play a bit too and he’s become one of the first names on the Norwich teamsheet. If he carries on progressing, Smith has a bright future in the game.
Gary Doherty is another challenger to Lee Croft’s crown (what has happened to Crofty by the way?…a perfect example of the grass not always being greener) and his turnaround in fortunes is testament to the character of the man.
Having been cast aside by the new Canary boss upon his arrival in Norfolk, the former captain forced his way back in and has been as solid as a rock in the backline.
Doherty is now an automatic choice and has looked like one of the outstanding defenders in this division.
Another player who has really grown under the stewardship of Lambert is Chrissy Martin and in a normal season, his goal tally of at least 20 would have earned him the gong.
But while he is a classy finisher, the 21-year-old isn’t the real deal just yet and he’ll be looking forward to testing himself in the Championship next season if, as expected, the league leaders finish the job in the coming weeks.
The Beccles-born forward’s form has tailed off a little bit of late but he will have benefitted from a full season under his belt and he certainly has the capabilities to be a success at that level.
Others to shine in patches include Darel Russell, Adam Drury and Jens Berthel Askou but a mixture of injuries and suspensions probably rule them out of taking the top honour.
However, the three to beat have to be Fraser Forster, Grant Holt and Wes Hoolahan and each a have a strong case to win the Barry Butler Memorial Trophy.
The fact that Forster is a loanee may count against him but make no mistake, the big goalkeeper has won the Canaries several points this season with some outstanding saves and Lambert and Co will be hoping that Newcastle let him out to play again next year.
Further up the pitch I’m a huge fan of Hoolahan also and he has been scintillating at times. The City boss has to take a lot of credit for his form and Lambert has found a natural home for the Irishman, playing just behind the two strikers. In technical terms he’s the best player in League One bar none.
Like Doherty, Hoolahan also looked destined for a Canary exit at the start of the campaign but the talented Dubliner finally looks settled both on and off the pitch and he has provided the spark that all successful teams need.
But for the influence he has on the team, the award simply has to go to Holt for both his leadership and goalscoring prowess – at the time of writing, the skipper has 28 to his name.
League One is a physical place and if you want to compete for honours, you need to have an old fashioned number nine at your disposal. But Holt is so much more than that.
His work-rate and all-round play – don’t forget that the former Shrewsbury man has a few assists to his name – has also been consistently impressive and the Canary striker would be a very worthy winner indeed.