Belfast Telegraph

Chelsea stars N'Golo Kante and Eden Hazard lead glittering line-up at PFA Awards

Chelsea stars N'Golo Kante and Eden Hazard are in contention for the Professional Footballers' Association player of the year prize on Sunday evening.

The Blues remain on course to win the Premier League this season and the exploits of relentless midfield dynamo Kante and playmaker Hazard have been key to their results this season.

They head a six-man shortlist which also includes Tottenham and England forward Harry Kane, Everton's Belgian striker Romelu Lukaku, Manchester United's Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Alexis Sanchez of Arsenal.

Hazard won the award in 2015 after inspiring the Blues to glory under Jose Mourinho, before he and his Chelsea team-mates struggled for form last season. However, Kante is the bookmakers' favourite this time around at odds as short as 1-10.

He is set to become the first player in the Premier League era to win successive championships with different clubs, having won it with Leicester last season.

Kane is also nominated for the young player award alongside Spurs team-mate Dele Alli.

Alli won the award in 2016 and his name was a controversial omission from the senior player's list this time.

Tottenham head coach Mauricio Pochettino, speaking on April 13 when the shortlists were announced, said: ''I think he deserves (to be nominated) because he's showing great performances every week and in every game.

''He's improved a lot from last season. I think he's a better player, he's showing better stats and in my opinion yes, he deserves it.

''After his first season in the Premier League always the people want to see again in the second season if he can confirm all that he showed last season.

''Not only did he confirm that, he's improved in all aspects of his game. That means he's clever, intelligent, still with potential to improve and learn and today he's showing that he's one of the best players in the Premier League.''

Spurs have won four out of the last five men's young player awards - Kyle Walker in 2012, Gareth Bale in 2013, Kane in 2015 and Alli in 2016. Only Hazard (2014) has interrupted Spurs' winning streak.

The Tottenham duo are joined by Lukaku, Burnley defender Michael Keane, Sunderland goalkeeper Jordan Pickford and Manchester City winger Leroy Sane.

Keane's impressive form for the Clarets this term earned him a first England senior call-up late last year, and he now has two caps to his name.

Pickford has performed well between the posts in a struggling Black Cats side, while Germany international Sane has won rave reviews of late following his big-money summer arrival from Schalke.

Having won last season's Women's Super League crown without losing a game, Manchester City are understandably well represented for the women's player of the year prize.

England right-back Lucy Bronze, who won the award in 2014, is joined by the club's top scorer Jane Ross and midfielder Jill Scott. Alongside the City trio on the six-woman shortlist are Ellen White, Karen Carney and Caroline Weir.

Ross and Liverpool midfielder Weir both look set to feature in the Scotland team that face England at Euro 2017 this summer.

Bronze and Scott will represent England at the showpiece tournament in Holland, along with attacking midfielder Carney - a consistently strong performer for Chelsea last term - and Birmingham forward White, who scored the winner against the United States at the SheBelieves Cup last month.

Chelsea's Millie Bright and Manchester City's Nikita Parris - both also going to the Euros with England - have been nominated for the women's young player of the year gong.

Three City players get the nod in this category too, with Parris joined by Georgia Stanway and Keira Walsh. Weir is again nominated, along with Birmingham's Jess Carter.

The PFA will also announce the winner of its Merit award, a prize won last year by former Manchester United and Wales winger Ryan Giggs.

The ceremony at London's Grosvenor Hotel is also expected to feature tributes to former England defender Ugo Ehiogu, who died earlier this week aged 44.

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