THE Football League have announced the three-man shortlist for the Young Player of the Year award, with the winner to be announced on Sunday 16th March 2014 at The Football League Awards 2014, taking place at The Brewery, London.
Presented to the best player in The Football League under the age of 21, or in the season in which he turns 21, the award celebrates the emergence of young playing talent at The League’s 72 clubs and has previously been won by the likes of Gareth Bale, Fabian Delph and Wilfried Zaha. Currently a third of all players registered with Football League clubs are eligible to be considered for this award.
This nominees for this year's award are Derby County midfielder Will Hughes, Leicester City defender Liam Moore and midfielder Alex Pritchard, who is on loan at Swindon Town from Tottenham Hotspur.
The Football League Awards honour achievements, both on and off the pitch, across The League's 72 clubs, rewarding players, clubs and fans in 13 categories, which include the Family Club of the Year, Johnstone’s Paint Community Club of the Year, Capital One Supporter of the Year and the Tokio Marine Unsung Hero award.
On the pitch, the League Football Education Apprentice of the Year will be chosen for each division, as will the Sky Bet Player of the Year and the Mitre Goal of the Year.
In total, 31 clubs have been nominated so far, with Championship side Derby County leading the way with four nominations, while a further nine clubs have been nominated twice.
Young Player of the Year shortlist and nominee information:
Will Hughes (Derby County)
One of the most talked-about youngsters in the English game, midfielder Hughes has been a fixture in Derby’s side for the last two seasons – and he doesn’t even turn 19 until April. The youngster made his debut at the age of 16 in November 2011 before really establishing himself from the start of 2012/13 with a series of eye-catching displays in the Rams’ engine room. His comfort on the ball and ability to pick a pass have seen him progress through the England Under-17 and Under-19 squads to the Under-21 setup. Hughes was also named The Football League’s Young Player of the Month for November 2012.
Liam Moore (Leicester City)
Born in nearby Loughborough, Moore is living the dream by turning out for the club he supports – and is making great strides while doing so. The 21-year-old has progressed rapidly as a regular in Nigel Pearson’s starting XI with his strength and poise marking him out as a defender of some repute in the Foxes’ push for promotion from the Sky Bet Championship. Six-footer Moore is a member of the England Under-21 squad having previously earned Under-17 honours, while his outstanding form this season was recognised with The Football League Young Player of the Month award for September 2013.
Alex Pritchard (Swindon Town)
Midfield schemer Pritchard is on a season-long loan with Swindon Town from Tottenham Hotspur and has shown why he is so highly-rated by the Premier League club. His role means he is behind many of the Robins’ attacking moves as he probes at opposing defences and carves out chances for his colleagues while also adding vital goals of his own. Still only 20, and having previously been on loan at Peterborough United, Pritchard has made great strides in League 1 for Swindon this season and is a popular figure at the County Ground with seven goals registered in all competitions. He is also an England Under-20 international.
2013: Thomas Ince (Blackpool)
2012: Wilfried Zaha (Crystal Palace)
2011: Connor Wickham (Ipswich Town)
2010: Nathaniel Clyne (Crystal Palace)
2009: Fabian Delph (Leeds United)
2008: Michael Kightly (Wolverhampton Wanderers)
2007: Gareth Bale (Southampton)
2006: David Nugent (Preston North End)
The shortlists were drawn up by a panel of judges that included sponsors, media and members of The Football League.
To find out more about The Football League Awards, and for a full list of Award categories, please visit www.FLAwards.com.