L1 Player of the Year
League One has been keenly-contested once again, but who will be named top performer?
Last Updated: 24/03/13 11:38am
League One has been keenly-contested once again this season, but who will be named top performer in the third tier?
The Football League awards will honour the great and good on Sunday evening, with a gala ceremony at The Brewery in London set to acknowledge the efforts of those who have excelled in 2012/13.
Competition for the top gongs is as fierce as ever, with so many players having caught the eye.
There can, however, be only three contenders for the coveted Player of the Year award and a hot-shot striker, a midfield playmaker and a man looking to secure top gongs in successive seasons make up the League One shortlist.
Leon Clarke - Coventry City
In the space of 18 months, Clarke has turned out for six different clubs. He has now represented 14 over the course of a much-travelled career, and he is still only 28. Clarke, through no real fault of his own, appears unable to put down roots. He has, however, been able to produce his best form throughout a rather hectic period. He began the current campaign on the books at Charlton, but was allowed to head for Scunthorpe on loan in September. He plundered 11 goals in just 15 appearances for the Iron, including one in each of his first five outings for the club. Scunthorpe were unable to snap him up on a permanent basis, and their loss became Coventry's gain. They Sky Blues snapped Clarke up on loan, before bringing him on board full-time during the January transfer window. The goals have kept on coming, with Clarke already into double figures for his latest employers and through the 20-goal barrier for the season.
Alan Judge - Notts County
Many expected Judge to head for pastures new during the winter transfer window, with there understood to be no shortage of interest in his services from the Championship. He was, however, to remain on the books at Notts County and will see out the season at Meadow Lane. The Magpies have put fresh terms to him, but those have been rejected and it appears as though Judge will drop into the free agent pool over the summer. Whoever is able to get him to bite will be getting quite the bargain, with creative midfielders sought after by coaches the length and breadth of the country. Judge has placed himself in that bracket over recent seasons, with the Irishman having become an important source of goals for County. He has not been able to grab as many for himself this season as he would have liked, but his ability to create chances for others has ensured that he remains one of the division's standout talents - with 10 assists to his name.
Matt Ritchie - Bournemouth
Ritchie knows what it takes to land a coveted Player of the Year award, having been named League Two's star performer in 2011/12. His efforts were acknowledged last season after he helped Swindon to promotion into the third tier, and he has made the step up in class with consummate ease. He spent the first half of the current campaign with the Robins, netting nine times before the end of the calendar year. The opening of the transfer window was expected to bring interest in his services, with Ritchie considered to be capable of turning out on a grander stage. He was, however, kept in League One by Bournemouth, with their ambitious plans for the future tempting him to the South Coast. The 23-year-old only opened his goal account for his new employers on Saturday, but he has quickly become an integral part of Eddie Howe's plans and has laid on 10 goals for grateful team-mates. With Bournemouth well-placed to push on for promotion to the Championship, Ritchie may be offered the opportunity to step a further rung up the league ladder in 2013/14.