Gav says... Jack Clarke
I’m over the moon that Jack Clarke has proved me wrong this season.
I have no issues admitting that prior to that final run of games at the end of our time in League One, I was less than impressed by Jack and would have been happy for him to go back to Spurs once his loan expired. He never really settled into the side, I don’t think - he was mostly played in an unfamiliar position, was in and out of the side, and struggled to make an impact. He looked exactly what he was - a lost kid trying to find his feet.
Thankfully much smarter people than me had seen enough and saw fit to part with a decent chunk of change to sign him on a permanent basis, and that initial bedding in period followed by a summer of settling in to his new home has seen us get the best from Clarke, and at a higher level.
There was huge pressure on our attacking players to contribute once Ross Stewart and Ellis Simms picked up long term injuries and I think of all of them it was Clarke who has stepped up most - with four goals and six assists in the league, he’s established himself as one of the most threatening players in the division through adding some end product to his game.
In full flow he’s magical to watch - a proper old fashioned winger that runs at defenders, scaring them with his pace. I thought last season he was too one-footed, but this season he’s used his left foot a lot more and that has added a different dimension to his play.
He’s been absolutely immense, and as far as I’m concerned the sky is the limit with this lad. If he keeps progressing at the rate he has in the first part of the season, we’ll have a fight on our hands to keep him at the club in the summer - he’s been that good.
Ewan Bowman says… Danny Batth
For me, there are a few candidates, such as Jack Clarke and Anthony Patterson, but the player I would choose is Batth.
He’s been simply outstanding as part of a relatively inexperienced back line, and his experience is vital in the team.
Of his many attributes, his positional sense is the most impressive.
He’s always in the right place at the right time to make vital interceptions, and his aerial ability is a bonus. Whilst he might not be a ball-playing centre-back. I class him as a real old school centre half who just loves defending.
Batth has been superb and is one of the first names on the teamsheet.
Andrew Smithson says… Anthony Patterson
I honestly think you could make a strong argument for fix or six lads, and there’s one or two more that were shaping up well before injury struck.
My personal preference, however, would be Anthony Patterson. Right now, he is doing both the coaches and himself proud.
I can’t think of any aspect of his game that’s really lacking, but he is still young enough to make you think there’s more to come. He seems like an unassuming and hard working lad too, so I honestly think he has the potential to have a great career.
I’m looking forward then to seeing him develop, but even if we just concentrate on the here and now for the time being you’ve got to appreciate his contribution to the side.
The lad has made a series of good saves, and his handling of crosses is always extremely solid - not bad for somebody playing at National League level this time last year and being expected to perform in a pressured situation.
Above all, I love the mental side of Patterson’s game.
He knows when to slow things down and he rarely dwells on things when they don’t go to plan. Considering how composed he is, you’d be forgiven for thinking that he had about three hundred games under his belt, and to be that way whilst still so young is very impressive.
He gets my vote, therefore, but I must say how nice it is to look at the squad and see so many alternatives. There are some very good players at the club and they are proving it on the pitch, so well done to everybody involved!
Kingsley Reavley says... Corry Evans
For the way he knits the team together and provides vital experience, my pick is Corry Evans.
The work he gets through often goes unheralded, but make no mistake: his all round game is consistently excellent.
A good example of how vital he is was actually his absence during the Cardiff game.
The general consensus was that the game was there for taking, but the midfield battle was lost due to a lack of nous. As soon as Evans came, on we established a foothold, dominated the ball, and were unlucky not to nick a point.
Being in the right place at the right time to nullify opposition attacks is an incredibly underrated skill which Evans undoubtedly possesses. In addition, his pass completion is second to none.
He might not be a captain in the mould of Kevin Ball but he leads the team in an understated, professional way and he clearly has the respect of the younger lads.
Evans is now playing his best football since joining the club, and we’re lucky to have him.