PFA Women's Player of the Year: The Contenders
By Hannah Lupton
Last Updated: 17/04/15 3:38pm
Chelsea Ladies lead the way with three nominations for the PFA Women's Player of the Year awards with Eniola Aluko, Ji So-Yun and Hannah Blundell all recognised.
Aluko and So-Yun are in contention to collect the Women’s PFA Players’ Player of the Year award while Blundell is among the nominees for the young player award.
Birmingham's Karen Carney, Jess Clarke of Notts County, Arsenal’s Kelly Smith and Manchester City defender Lucy Bronze, who scooped the accolade last season, are the Chelsea trio's rivals for the top award while Manchester City’s on-loan striker Nikita Parris, Notts County’s Amy Turner, Leah Williamson of Arsenal and Birmingham duo Freda Ayisi and Aoife Mannion are nominated alongside Blundell.
Leah Williamson hit the headlines this month when she had to re-take a penalty against Norway five days after the original match after UEFA overturned the referee’s decision to incorrectly award an indirect free kick for encroachment. Williamson kept her nerve to score the spot kick and secure England U19’s place at the European Championships in Israel this July.
Eni Aluko also recently received high praise for a goal scored in an England shirt; her equaliser against the Netherlands at the Cyprus Cup was similar to John Barnes’ effort against Brazil in the Maracana. She has hit prolific goalscoring form ahead of the World Cup finals in Canada with 19 goals in 29 internationals. Aluko, a qualified lawyer, netted five times last season for Chelsea as the title race went down to the final day of the season.
Lucy Bronze is the current holder of the Women's PFA Players' Player of the Year and will be hoping to be voted the winner again by her peers. The 23-year-old versatile defender played an integral role as Liverpool retained the WSL title in 2014. The England international joined Manchester City ahead of the 2015 season.
Karen Carney became the first woman to be inducted into the Birmingham City Hall of Fame and made her 100th England appearance in front of a record crowd at Wembley Stadium against Germany; becoming the youngest English player of either sex to reach the milestone. The 27-year-old is enjoying her second spell with Birmingham and was the WSL’s top scorer in the 2014 season with eight goals.
In the absence of the injured Ellen White, Jess Clarke became the focal point of Notts County’s striking power last season. Clarke finished with six goals, second behind top scorer Carney. She kept faith with the club when they relocated from Lincoln and her form also earned her a nomination for the FA Women’s Players’ Player of the Year.
When Kelly Smith announced her international retirement in February England head coach Mark Sampson said, “Kelly will be remembered as one of the iconic players in the history of the women’s international game.” England’s all-time leading goal scorer called time on a 20 year-career after 117 appearances and 46 goals. The Arsenal skipper still has much to offer at club level, she scored in the FA Women’s Cup final as the Gunners beat 2-0 Everton to lift the trophy for the thirteen time.
Ji So-Yun helped Chelsea finish league runners up last season and was named the FA WSL 1 Players’ Player of the Year for her efforts. The South Korean international was the league’s joint-highest provider of assists last season and is nicknamed the ‘Korean Messi’ by fans from her homeland. Chelsea Ladies manager Emma Hayes said, "If she keeps working at it I wouldn’t be surprised if one day she is World Player of the Year."
The winners will be announced at the 42nd PFA awards on April 26.