Scotland's player of the year awards nominees announced

Kilmarnock's Alexei Eremenko, Steven Naismith of Rangers and Celtic pair Gary Hooper and Emilio Izaguirre are the nominees as Scotland's players' player of the year.

Hooper is also in the young player category with Dundee United's David Goodwillie, Chris Maguire of Aberdeen, and Hearts' David Templeton.

Players' union chief Fraser Wishart said: "There is no greater honour in football than to be voted the best player in your country by your peers.

"This is the top award for players."

Midfielder Steven Davis of Rangers won the prize in last season's Scottish Premier League category after a poll among players across all four of Scotland's professional leagues.

Defender Danny Wilson, who has since left Rangers for Liverpool, won the young player award for 2010.

Eremenko was brought to Kilmarnock at the start of the season on loan from Metalist Kharkiv by Finnish compatriot Mixu Paatelainen and has won many plaudits for his performances in midfield for the Ayrshire club.

Kilmarnock midfielder Alexei Eremenko
Eremenko has dictated play in Killie's midfield this season

Hooper, 23, with 15 league goals so far, is the SPL's current top scorer in his debut season in Scotland.

National team boss Craig Levein also made enquiries about his eligibility for Scotland until it was discovered that the Englishman had no blood ties to the country.

Hooper's team-mate, Izaguirre, from Honduras, is attracting attention from clubs in England thanks to his energetic displays at left-back for the Glasgow club.

Forward Naismith has struck up profitable partnerships at Ibrox with first Kenny Miller and, after Miller's departure, Nikica Jelavic.

He has also become a regular in Levein's Scotland squad, scoring against world champions Spain in the 3-2 defeat at Hampden.

Naismith said: "There are a few players who have come in and lit the league up this season, Eremenko for one have been a breath of fresh air.

"Celtic have recruited quite a few players and it's unsurprising that a couple of them are here as well."

Eremenko insists a large chunk of the credit for his nomination must go to former Kilmarnock manager Mixu Paatelainen, who took him to Rugby Park before recently quitting the club to take over as Finland boss.

"If it wasn't for him, I wouldn't be here now," he said.

"I would not have come to Kilmarnock in the first place, that's for sure, so all thanks go to him."

In the First Division category, Dundee players Gary Harkins and Sean Higgins are in the frame for honours, as are John Baird of Raith Rovers and Dunfermline's Andy Kirk.

Robert Linn of East Fife, Rory McAllister of Brechin, Ayr United's Mark Roberts and Iain Russell of champions Livingston are the Second Division nominees.

And, making up the Division Three list are Stranraer's Scott Agnew and Armand One, Ricky Little of Queen's Park and Arbroath's Gavin Swankie.

The winner of each award will be announced at a ceremony in Glasgow on Sunday, 1 May.

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