While Ciaran Clark appears to be the current fans' choice for the award, there's a strong argument to make that fellow defender Alan Hutton deserves a few votes himself.
Having looked all but set to leave the club at the start of the summer, few Aston Villa fans expected Alan Hutton to have the resurgent season he’s experiencing in the West Midlands.
Signed from Tottenham Hotspur in August 2011, Hutton was a regular in Alex McLeish’s side during his first season at Villa Park but failed to make a single appearance for the club over the next two campaigns following Paul Lambert’s arrival, as Matthew Lowton was brought in from Sheffield United as his replacement.
Sent out on loan spells to Nottingham Forest, Real Mallorca and Bolton Wanderers, while the club tried and failed to offload him on a permanent basis, Lambert himself admitted last season that he didn’t expect to ever see the right-back in a claret and blue shirt again, but then did a dramatic U-turn in the summer after blocking a move to West Bromwich Albion.
Brought back into the first-team fold during pre-season along with fellow “Bomb Squad” members Darren Bent and Charles N’Zogbia, the Scotland international has since taken his second chance and ran with it, establishing himself as the undisputed first-choice at his position and one of Villa’s most consistent performers.
|Position||Team||Season||Total Key Passes||Passing Accuracy||Total Tackles GAME||Tackles Accuracy||Total Clearances GAME||Duels Won GAME||Duel Success||Interceptions GAME||Appearances||Mins Played|
|Alan Hutton||DF||Aston Villa||2014-2015||22||77%||1.84||80%||3.72||6.36||63.86%||1.36||25||2,250|
|Matthew Lowton||DF||Aston Villa||2013-2014||15||77%||1.65||76%||2.43||2.87||46.81%||1.35||23||1,663|
Making 29 total appearances, while adding a goal and assist, Hutton even penned a new deal until 2017 in September and had the since-departed Lambert hailing him as the Premier League’s best right-back.
“I’m delighted for Alan because I think he’s playing as well as any right back in the country at the moment, Alan,” Lambert told the Birmingham Mail after witnessing him score the decider in December’s 2-1 home win over Leicester.
“Obviously he went over to Spain and to Forest. He was coming into his last year and I thought I’m going to sit with him and speak to him. Good as gold, he was so easy to deal with. I’m delighted it’s worked out, especially for him.
“He’s got nothing to prove. I don’t think he needs to make up for lost time. He’s going well with the national team. They’re in a good postion to try and qualify for the Euros.
“He’s playing really well here, he had a good career at Rangers, he’s played at big clubs before. Alan’s got nothing to prove to me. He’s won things, he’s a top player.
“I think hes really enjoying his football and long may it continue.”
Back in the line-up after serving a two-match suspension for his 10th booking of the season, Hutton should prove a vital part of Villa’s efforts to retain their top-flight status during the final run in and, if he can keep up his form, then there’s a good argument to make that he should be earning a few club accolades come the end of the campaign.