Should these defenders from Middlesbrough, Hull and Burnley be considered among the PFA Player of the Year nominees?

Middlesbrough’s Ben Gibson applauds fans after the game

With the 2016/17 Premier League season entering the business end, talk of the PFA players and team of the year are well underway.

Much praise is, rightfully, heading Chelsea’s way but here are three centre-backs that should be getting more recognition for their performances this term.

Ben Gibson

In attack it has been a torrid campaign for Middlesbrough, with no team having scored fewer than their paltry 19 goals. With Boro second from bottom it could be their downfall, but their saving grace is their impressive defence.

Only four teams have conceded fewer than their total of 30 and all are in the top six. Their -11 goal difference – a stat that could count for everything come the final day – is bettered only by the division’s top ten sides.

Gibson has played every league game to date, helping his team to eight clean-sheets with his commanding performances at the heart of an under fire back-line.

Burnley’s Michael Keane

Michael Keane

Burnley have fared far better in the top tier at the second time of asking under Sean Dyche, with the Clarets currently seven points clear of the relegation zone.

Much of that has been due to ‘fortress Turf Moor’ – a record on their own patch that puts them sixth in the home form table and includes important wins over many of the teams around them.

Keane has been at the heart of that, playing all 28 of Burnley’s league games and even earning an England call-up.

Tottenham’s Victor Wanyama in action with Hull City’s Harry Maguire

Harry Maguire

Completing the trio of newly promoted clubs, Hull are certainly more in the Boro camp when it comes to their chance of heading back to the Championship.

Battling in the face of adversity under Mike Phelan at the start of the season only lasted so long, but with Marco Silva now in charge they have a genuine chance of avoiding the drop.

One player who has greatly benefited is Maguire, who has helped the Tigers concede just six goals in their six league matches since Silva became manager and keep important clean-sheets against Liverpool and Manchester United.

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