Award nominations highlight strength in Capital

Championship Player of the year nominees Jamie Walker, Alim Ozturk, Scott Allan and Morgaro Gomis
Championship Player of the year nominees Jamie Walker, Alim Ozturk, Scott Allan and Morgaro Gomis
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HEARTS and Hibs dominate the voting for the Scottish Championship Player of the Year, with all four nominees coming from Edinburgh clubs.

Alim Ozturk, Morgaro Gomis and Jamie Walker are up for the award from Tynecastle along with the Easter Road midfielder Scott Allan.

Professionals in all four Scottish divisions voted during April and the Championship’s Player of the Year has been monopolised by the Capital clubs. The winner will be announced on Sunday, May 3, with players from both teams keen to praise their fellow nominees. Allan admitted today he would happily swap any personal award for promotion with Hibs, who face Livingston tonight.

They must overcome the disappointment of losing to Falkirk in the Scottish Cup semi-final and refocus their aim on second place.

Allan stressed that the only way to silence critics who have questioned his team’s character following the cup exit is to win a place in the Premiership.

“If you don’t win games, people are going to ask questions. That’s just part of football,” he said. “It’s up to us to put that right in that play-offs. That’s the only way to answer them. We need to beat Livingston first so our last two games become really important in terms of finishing in second place, that’s our aim. Hopefully, Rangers slip up, but for us every game is massive now. Nobody can feel sorry for themselves. I said at the weekend we only had ourselves to blame for not winning on Saturday, the domination we had throughout the game and the chances we had. We just need to use that disappointment to move us forward.

“We need to win all of our games and hope someone does us a favour so we can finish second. If not, then it will be interesting. Personally, I am more excited than anything, I am looking forward to it. We have some big games coming up. I think we have a good enough squad to go up, we just need to start taking our chances.”

Allan explained that football has become enjoyable again since he ended a disappointing spell at West Bromwich Albion and joined Hibs last summer. “The season has gone well for me personally. I knew if I applied myself I’d be able to have a successful season and I have managed to do that. I’m happy to be playing every week – that’s why you start playing football in the first place. It’s nice to have a smile back on my face.”

Gomis, the experienced Hearts midfielder, named team-mate Walker as his club’s player of the year. He also declared that head coach Robbie Neilson deserves Scotland’s Manager of the Year award after leading Hearts to a record-breaking title win.

“For me, he should be. He’s done a great job, he’s a great manager and hopefully he can carry on doing what he’s doing just now,” said Gomis. “He’s very calm. When you speak to him he knows what he wants and he’s a really good manager. Like everybody, he doesn’t like losing, it doesn’t matter who you are playing against. He wasn’t happy with us losing the games against Rangers and Hibs recently and there were a few words. My Hearts player of the year would be Jamie Walker. He’s been great since I signed for the club but, in the last three or four months, he’s been scoring a lot of important goals. I think that’s the reason we have won the league. He just turned up out of nowhere and started scoring goals. He’s been great, he’s been really good.

“Alim has been really good as well and there are loads of other boys who have had great seasons. It’s not just been Jamie or Alim or myself. There’s been Danny Wilson, Prince Buaben, Miguel Pallardo, James Keatings, Osman Sow – I think all the players have had a good season, so it’s hard to pick one who has been the best.”