Date: 29th April 2016 at 12:45pm
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As we fast approach the end of yet another campaign, it’s time for me to pick my Rams’ Player of the Season.

There are four players who for me deserve a special mention this season. So as in all good award ceremonies, here are my nominations:

Scott Carson

Certainly the surprise signing of last summer, Scott soon established himself as the first choice goalkeeper over Lee Grant. He has been Mr Consistent all season long and has saved the team on more than just one occasion. I certainly think he’s the best ‘keeper we’ve had at Derby since perhaps Mart Poom. With Premier League experience also under his belt, he won’t look out of place if we did happen to get promoted this season.

Cyrus Christie

This young Irishman has already established himself as one of the best right backs in the Championship. With 200 senior appearances already under his belt, a fact pointed out to me by my daughter and fellow season ticket holder Alexandra Hicken, Cyrus has also broken through into the senior Republic of Ireland squad as well, and he’s still only 23-years-old. And although he suffered a drastic loss of form and confidence in the second-half of last season, he has come back better and stronger than ever this term. Particularly with his pace and strength going forward, he really is an exciting prospect in the years to come. He does still have the odd error in him, but he can only get better and better.

Jason Shackell

In his second spell with the Rams; Jason was the prized signing of last summer, and he certainly hasn’t failed to deliver. His experience has been key to how much more solid we look at the back. And without doubt his calming influence has been instrumental in the naming of my next player. With one of the highest number of blocks completed in the Championship this season, his presence at the heart of the Rams’ defence has been invaluable.

Richard Keogh

For me personally, my Player of the Season is captain Keogh. If not for his consistency or by the way he tries to lead by example, then it possibly has to be purely for the journey he has gone through over the last two seasons.

Yes; one might argue that he’s always got a mistake in him, but the way he was playing leading up to the play-off final a couple of campaigns ago was worthy of any award. But to then be the one whose error lead to QPR’s late winner at Wembley, followed by the whole nation watching how distraught he was after the game. Indeed he carried that burden through much of last season as his confidence seemed shot at times.

Photo: Marc Atkins / Offside.

Captain Keogh has featured in all 44 Championship fixtures this campaign for Derby – Photo: Marc Atkins / Offside.

But this season, he has transformed back into the player we knew he was. He had lost the captaincy at the start of this season under former head coach Paul Clement, and it seemed that was a good move after relieving him of any added pressure. But when Darren Wassall took over, he immediately gave the skipper’s armband back to Keogh, for me that was a massive statement of how many at the club hold him in such high regard. A point which was reinforced this week as he won the Players’ Player of the Year and Player of the Year awards at the end of season awards event.

Unfortunately, all of my picks for Player of the Season are defensive ones, which probably underlines where our season has faltered and why we are not challenging the top three teams. But I must mention two players who came close to my top five…

Tom Ince

For a player; and possibly a name, who’s always going to have high expectations pinned on him, which for some fans are very often too high, Tom has had quite a good season considering his goals and assists within a good team and a very competitive league. Some may sometimes think he is a luxury player, but for me, the Rams need these kind of players who have that extra bit of quality to unlock defences.

Photo: Charlotte Wilson / Offside

Midfielder Bryson has scored three goals in 19 league appearances for the Rams this season – Photo: Charlotte Wilson / Offside.

Craig Bryson

Injured on the opening day of the season; Bryson has missed half the campaign, and for that reason alone, he is not in my list. But it is safe to say he is back to his best of two years ago. Bryson firing on all cylinders is a formidable sight and if he had played more games, then he would have been my Player of the Season.

So there we have it; I’m sure you all have your own Player of the Season nominees and good reasons for your pick. But it’s captain Keogh for me this season, and after the two years he’s had he deserves it!

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