The end of season reviews are coming thick and fast as May approaches and today we look at who could land Leeds United's player of the season award.
In a Sky Bet Championship campaign of two very different halves, it is perhaps most telling that one of the main candidates for the player of the year award at the turn of the year is now no longer at the club. Stephen Warnock had consistently shown experience, leadership and responsibility in a troubling Autumn period, but he was sold to Derby in January in a move that baffled many fans and was typical of the curious logic often applied to the running of the club.
At the time there were few other candidates as stand out players, but a few months on the picture is very different, and while previous seasons have seen a clear winner streaking away months before the end of the season (Sam Byram in 2012/13 and Ross McCormack in 2013/14) this season sees a fierce battle emerging between a swath of justified candidates.
In his first season in English football, the 24-year-old has been an ever-present in the league and been responsible for securing several points with spectacular saves, including penalties. Silvestri's shot-stopping is beyond question, but his command of his area is sometimes lacking and it is here where experience may help him in the future. Silvestri suffered a crisis of confidence mid-season when some mistakes cost Leeds - notably hesitant mix-ups with his defence - but other than goals conceded to Huddersfield and Ipswich where he undoubtedly should have done better, Silvestri has had a good season and should improve next season. Easily the best of Massimo Cellino's many imports.
Having exploded onto the scene in 2012, Byram experienced a troubling second season hampered by injury. Under Neil Redfearn Byram has definitely found his form again, firstly at right back before Christmas - where he still lacked the confidence to attack with gusto as he used to - but more tellingly when moved into a wide attacking role in 2015. Byram's chief assets are his pace and direct attacking threat and at times these have been Leeds' only wide attacking outlet, but it has been effective, particularly away from home. Byram has chipped in with three goals in his advanced role and is clearly enjoying his new lease of life.
In the summer months when Leeds brought in 15 new players, nobody expected the most prominent emerging name to be home grown Lewis Cook. The England U-17 international was given his first start under Neil Redfearn against Bolton in August and has demanded inclusion ever since, despite concerns over burnout in his first season of professional football. Cook has patrolled midfield with cunning, bite and confidence way beyond his years, and has shown quality on the ball with long, short and incisive passing. If Cook can add goals to his game he will be the complete package.
Murphy can thank Neil Redfearn and his assistant Steve Thompson for a renaissance in the second half of the season that nobody saw coming. A difficult first season with Leeds after a high-profile £1 million transfer from Crewe saw Murphy demonstrate little of the quality most expected. A sending off against Bradford in the League Cup in August was the last straw for many, but Murphy's deployment as an anchor midfielder in the revised 4-2-3-1 formation has seen his qualities come to the fore. Murphy has visibly grown in stature compared to the hesitant, hunched and lonely figure of last season and has pitched in with some vital goals against Birmingham, Bournemouth and Reading. If the award was for the second half of the season, only Sol Bamba could stop Murphy from walking away with it.
A January half-season loan from Palermo, Bamba has been the rock that Leeds fans have been wanting at the heart of their defence for years. A series of commanding performances have been critical in resurrecting Leeds' season, and Bamba needs to become a permanent signing in the summer.
A player that polarises the support at Elland Road, but has undoubtedly come to the fore with some commanding midfield displays since the turn of the year. Austin has been most effective as the marauding attacking midfielder behind the lone striker, where he doesn't carry too much responsibility and can use his powerful direct running to unsettle defenders. When Austin has time to think the plan often goes wrong, when he is instinctive goals like the magnificent dipping volley at home to Watford can result.
If you are looking for a player who has performed consistently well throughout the season and has routinely affected games to the positive for Leeds, then Alex Mowatt would get my vote as player of the season. 20-year-old Mowatt has stamped more authority on midfield this season and has shown his versatility in playing in almost every midfield position at some stage, except under previous head coach David Hockaday who didn't select him once. Eight goals from midfield is a good return, but more significant is that three of them were the only goal in vital 1-0 wins over Millwall, Middlesbrough and Wigan. Mowatt has so often been the link in midfield that gives Leeds some attacking fluidity and he has also added a battling quality to his game that has ensured Leeds are no longer a soft touch in the middle third. Add to that his emerging reputation as a free-kick specialist and Leeds have a rare talent on their hands.
Arriving from a career largely spent in Italy's Serie B, not much was expected of the 30-year-old when he arrived in August from Catania. However, Antenucci very quickly became a pivotal figure in Leeds' attacking play, being able to drift wide, show vision and play on the counter attack, the Italian gave Leeds an extra dimension. Eight goals before the end of December - including a brace in a 2-0 win over table-topping Derby - promised a fruitful season ahead, but Antenucci suffered a loss of form and became the victim of Redfearn's formation change to a lone front man. The Italian still possesses quality on the ball that no other Leeds striker has and two goals from the subs' bench in recent games at Fulham and Blackpool have put him into double figures for the season and back in first team contention.