Tottenham striker Harry Kane is among the six players to have been nominated for the Barclays Premier League’s PFA Player of the Year award. Kane, who has scored 19 goals in the league already this season, is joined on the shortlist by Manchester United’s David de Gea, Liverpool’s Philippe Coutinho, Arsenal’s Alexis Sanchez and Chelsea duo Diego Costa and Eden Hazard. The list was voted for by players from 100 clubs from the Premier League, Football League and Women’s Super League. Kane’s nomination caps a superb breakthrough season for the 21-year-old, who has scored 30 goals in all competitions for Spurs including a first Premier League hat-trick against Leicester last month. The England forward is currently the Premier League’s joint top scorer with Costa, who has enjoyed an excellent first season after moving to Chelsea from Atletico Madrid last summer. The 26-year-old found the net seven times in his first four matches and, despite suffering from a recurring hamstring problem, has 20 goals in 35 appearances for the Blues, who are seven points clear at the top of the table. Chelsea’s charge towards the title also owes much to the form of Hazard, who Jose Mourinnho last week declared “by far the best player” in the league. The Belgian winger, who won the PFA Young Player of the Year Award last year, has managed 12 goals and nine assists in the current campaign. Hazard will have to fight off competition from Sanchez, who has lived up to high expectations after Arsenal paid around £35million to sign him last summer. The talented Chilean has notched 14 goals and eight assists in his debut season in England, helping the Gunners to second in the table. Fellow South American midfielder Coutinho is also nominated after a sparkling campaign for Liverpool while De Gea completes the list, having been rewarded for some superb performances in goal for Manchester United. Coutinho, De Gea, Kane and Hazard are all named on the Young Player of the Year shortlist as well, along with Liverpool midfielder Raheem Sterling and Chelsea goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois. The Women’s PFA Players’ Player of the Year nominees include Eniola Aluko (Chelsea), Lucy Bronze (Manchester City), Jess Clarke (Notts County), Karen Carney (Birmingham), Kelly Smith (Arsenal) and Ji So-Yun (Chelsea). De Gea, who has kept 10 clean sheets in the league this season, said: “It’s true that last season was good for me from a personal point of view, but I think that things are going even better for me this time around.” He added: “I think I’m competing better, performing well and I think my decision-making is a lot better this season. “I’m happy and I’m trying to keep going in the same way and keep improving.” Press Association
Since about mid-June, Badger fans and media alike have been riding the Russell Wilson train and it’s certainly not about to slow down anytime soon.Through fall camp, it was rare if media sports outlets failed to mention Wilson at least once. Days before the Nevada-Las Vegas game, everyone was a-twitter – and on Twitter – with great expectations for the transfer quarterback. It seemed as if everyone felt the guy was special.Then he gave an unforgettable performance against the Rebels in the season opener.Wilson went 10-for-13, passing for 255 yards and two touchdowns. He also ran the ball only two times but managed to rack up a total of 62 yards on the ground on top of another touchdown. His performance alone would have been enough for the win over UNLV.In the postgame interviews, all anyone wanted to discuss was the dominating show Wilson just gave the nation. Guilty as charged, I personally wrote an analysis on Wilson’s Badger debut.But as grateful as the rest of the team may be to have an experienced quarterback under center, I wouldn’t be surprised if they got a little tired of answering questions about the Richmond, Va., native after awhile.Wilson brought exactly what every Badger was hoping for. He was poised, smart, had good vision on the field and looked as if he had been playing with UW for years.Against Oregon State, Wilson picked up where he left off, expanding the passing game further and giving the nation a reason to keep watching Wisconsin.With three touchdowns and 189 yards, Wilson went 17-of-21 and ran the ball four times for a net total of 11 yards. He took only one sack for a loss of nine yards.It may be only two weeks into the season, but Wilson has been nearly flawless so far. And it hasn’t been the just-filling-in-a-role-and-getting-the-ball-where-it-needs-to-go – Wilson boasts numbers that rank him among the nation’s best.With a 237.6 passer rating, Wilson possesses the second best passer rating in the nation, second to Baylor’s Robert Griffin III’s 250.6 rating. Despite the 13-point difference separating the two, Wilson’s 79.4 completion percentage is stronger than Griffin’s 77.8, and Wilson’s 444 passing yards beat Griffin’s 359 by almost a complete football field – it’s only 15 yards short.It’s not too early to start whispering the H-word is it?To put this in perspective, the preseason’s expected Heisman winner and 2010 finalist, Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck, is currently No. 20 in the nation with a passer rating of 173.2. Boise State quarterback Kellen Moore, another 2010 finalist, is ranked even lower at No. 24 with a 170.1 passer rating.Heisman expectations don’t bleed into the media until late October. How the season plays out certainly counts, and making a name for yourself early is one way to get on the watch list that may have previously ignored you.In Sports Illustrated’s college football preview issue, Wilson wasn’t listed among considered players. He hasn’t cracked top-five consideration yet, but Wilson is listed on ESPN’s watch list.The rest of the season will be exciting to see how far Wilson can lead the Badgers, but the chances of Wilson bringing another Heisman to Madison are slim.Despite putting on a show through two games this season worthy of the equivalent of an Emmy, Wilson doesn’t have the history with UW or the background that will carry him through the Heisman process.He’s been impressive. He’s a dual threat. He’s helped pick up a talented Wisconsin team and give it the one thing they needed: an experienced quarterback. But his previous work with North Carolina State, while good, wasn’t enough to get him Heisman attention.Frankly he doesn’t have enough of a history with the voters to stand out as the game’s best player.The one way for him to claim the trophy: Take UW to the national championship.I will be the first to admit that I currently don’t even want to consider a return trip to the Rose Bowl, much less a bid at the national championship. Like many a football player – or so they claim in interviews – I just want to take this season one game at a time, focusing on the week’s opponent as they come up.If the Badgers do anything to give themselves a chance to play in the title game, they have to win every game in the regular season and win convincingly. This is the point where Wilson can step in and prove he’s worthy of the Heisman talk.He may have a long way to go to even be in serious consideration for the trophy, but having a player in the mix gives UW that knowing, yes-we’re-taking-you-seriously nod from the rest of college football.Kelly is a junior majoring in journalism. Think she just jinxed everything by even bringing it up? Let her know at [email protected] or follow her on Twitter @kellyerickson4.