Peter Swan's Hull City player of the year: Top five revealed ... and vote for your own
IT'S been a terrific season watching Hull City and picking the outstanding player is as difficult as I can remember in all the years I've covered the club.
It could be any one of half a dozen but I've managed to pick out my top five so here goes.
FIRST: Ahmed Elmohamady
FOR sheer consistency over the course of the campaign, my Player of the Season vote goes to Ahmed Elmohamady.
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He's been superb week after week since arriving on loan from Sunderland and has been as influential as any player in the 3-5-2 shape that has worked wonders for Steve Bruce.
Elmohamady's crossing ability is second to none in the Championship. When a forward or a midfielder sees him shaping to cross from the right, they know the service will be right on the money. That's a brilliant quality.
Then he's also got pace, he links the play up well with others and has the ability to get past his defender.
You should never underestimate his defensive qualities either.
The role he plays demands that he covers a huge amount of ground going up and down the pitch but his fitness levels ensure few opponents have ever got in behind him.
It's hard to pick fault in his game and let's hope he's still around next season once his loan expires.
SECOND: Robbie Brady
IF Elmohamady gets the nod for number one, his wing-back partner Robbie Brady is not far behind.
It wasn't the first time we'd seen Brady when he joined on loan in November but he's been a completely different player to the one that blew hot and cold at the KC Stadium last season.
It's clear to me that he worked hard on the defensive side of the game during the summer with Manchester United and he's arrived back here as a player tailor-made for the left wing-back spot.
With Elmohamady on one side and Brady on the other, there's two constant threats out wide.
He's more of an individual player than Elmohamady but he's improving that side of his game all the time.
The way he works with Stephen Quinn is excellent. Brady's crossing ability is improving as well and at his age he's only going to get better all the time.
If City go on and win promotion then the two wing-backs will have played a huge part, no doubt about it.
THIRD: Paul McShane
I'D have been amazed if you'd told me that Paul McShane would make my top three at the start of the season but that revival is purely down to the player himself.
He forgot all about a horrible couple of years in and out of the club on loan and kept on going until the opportunity Steve Bruce promised came along.
Ever since McShane's never looked back.
The thing I see every time he plays is that he loves football.
Everything he has, he gives to the team.
That's a great example to set to the younger players and a big reason why he's become such a popular player with all the supporters.
He's also made big improvements to his individual game. Where I used to fear there was a mistake in his game, he's really worked hard to keep those to a minimum.
Some of the credit has to go to Steve Bruce.
As a former defender I'm convinced he will have told McShane just to simplify his game.
He's not a cultured ball player, he's a defender.
Putting the emphasis on doing the simple things right is what's really changed for him.
I can't help but feel sorry for him picking up the injury last weekend but hopefully it's not the last we see of him in a Hull City shirt.
FOURTH: Sone Aluko
IT'S such a shame Sone Aluko's missed half the season because for the opening three or four months of the year he was one of the best players in the Championship.
If he'd continued his form right up to now, I'm sure he would have got the nod ahead of Elmohamady.
Aluko had everything in those first few months; pace, trickery and goals.
I'm convinced he would have been pushing towards the 20-goal mark if he'd have been fit all season.
The injury problems he's suffered have been a real shame.
Every team needs a match-winner and he was City's.
If there was one criticism I could level at him, it would be his tendency to drop deep looking for the ball.
That would leave him with two or three men to beat and the forward line without an outlet.
But, like Brady, he's got time on his hands to grow and I'll be looking forward to seeing him back again fully fit.
Aluko's got to be the signing of the season. To have picked him up on a free transfer from Rangers was a cracking bit of business and goes to show there are bargains to be had if you look hard enough.
Well done to Steve Bruce for keeping tabs on a player he first had at Birmingham all those years ago.
FIFTH: Stephen Quinn
ANOTHER bargain buy completes my top five and that's Stephen Quinn.
He cost washers from Sheffield United back at the tail-end of the summer but he's become a vital member of Bruce's squad.
He's had the odd quiet game here and there over the course of the season but when he's playing to the best of his ability he's been great.
He's not the biggest but he's got plenty of skill and a good passing range.
Quinn also offers that balance with his left foot and that obviously makes him one of the first names on the manager's team-sheet.
He's been an ever-present since arriving at the club and very rarely lets you down on the left of midfield when linking up with Brady.
The understanding they've got means they can even play passes blind.
Quinn has summed up exactly how Bruce wants to play.
Where some players like to put their foot on the ball and slow the game down, he's always looking for the next pass and keeping that tempo high. That's not nice to play against for 90 minutes.
His stamina, like so many of his team-mates, cannot be faulted.
VOTE FOR YOUR PLAYER OF THE YEAR
The winner will be revealed in the Mail next week.