Neil Lennon critical of Celtic absence on player of year shortlist

 

Neil Lennon has described the absence of any of his Celtic team on the shortlist for PFA Scotland's player of the year award as "abysmal".

Hibernian's Leigh Griffiths, Motherwell's Michael Higdon, Aberdeen's Niall McGinn and Andrew Shinnie of Inverness are all vying for the award.

"Are people voting for the best or the most improved player?" asked Lennon.

There is a lot of ill will in the dressing room now. The players are very, very disappointed with the outcome

Neil Lennon

PFA Scotland's Fraser Wishart said seven Celtic players received votes but failed to make the shortlist.

Footballers from across Scotland's four senior leagues have cast their votes and it will be the first time in 23 years that the main award will go to a player from a club other than Celtic or Rangers.

Higdon, 29, leads the Scottish Premier League scoring charts and has 25 goals in all competitions, while Griffiths, 22, has matched that number in his second season on loan at Easter Road from Wolves.

Shinnie, 23, has 15 goals from midfield and his sparkling form has won him a summer move to Birmingham City under freedom of contract.

Lennon, whose side were crowned Scottish Premier League champions at the weekend, said the omission "beggared belief" after his squad also made the League Cup semi-final, reached the final of the Scottish Cup, and beat Barcelona on the way to reaching the last 16 of the Champions League.

PFA Scotland's Fraser Wishart

I think the voting, in a strange way, reflects Celtic's season

Fraser Wishart PFA Scotland

"The outcome of those votes belittles all the efforts of the players," he said. "That's not taking anything from the candidates that were nominated.

"They have all had fine seasons, but to not have one Celtic player in that group is unbelievable.

"I can't see why there's no Kris Commons, Gary Hooper, Victor Wanyama or Fraser Forster on that list."

Aberdeen's Jim Bett was the last non-Old Firm player to collect the accolade in 1989-90. Celtic's Charlie Mulgrew collected the main prize last year.

Griffiths is also up for young player of the year, with Celtic's Wanyama and Dundee United duo Stuart Armstrong and Gary Mackay-Steven.

Lennon added: "I have no idea what way the voting goes but you can't tell me that Forster, Wanyama, Commons, Kelvin Wilson and Hooper weren't in the forefronts of people's minds when the votes were made. It's ridiculous.

"There is a lot of ill will in the dressing room now. The players are very, very disappointed with the outcome. They have performed heroically."

Wishart, PFA Scotland's chief executive, said seven Celtic players received votes from their peers but not enough to make it into the top four.

Non-Old Firm players to win the award

  • 1978-79: Paul Hegarty (Dundee Utd)
  • 1980-81: Mark McGhee (Aberdeen)
  • 1981-82: Sandy Clark (Airdrieonians)
  • 1983-84: Willie Miller (Aberdeen)
  • 1984-85: Jim Duffy (Morton)
  • 1985-86: Richard Gough (Dundee Utd)
  • 1988-89: Theo Snelders (Aberdeen)
  • 1989-90: Jim Bett (Aberdeen)

"It's an independent vote. Every player, including the Celtic players get a vote," he said."We had probably 250-plus returns; we collate them, we put out the top four and it's the players themselves who decide.

"They (Celtic players) didn't quite make it into the top four but I think it reflects the team effort that Celtic have had because they've had so many good players this season.

"From PFA Scotland's point of view, we have no influence on the top four; that's the top four votes from the players themselves.

"Celtic have had a fantastic season and they deserve a lot of credit for the way they've played in Europe; they've won the league very easily and I think the voting, in a strange way, reflects their season. "

The winners will be announced and presented with their awards at a dinner and ceremony in Glasgow on 5 May.