With the season heading into the business end goal machine Marc Janko ripping it up for Sydney FC, the conversation naturally turns to who'll win the Johnny Warren Medal for player of the season.
Will it be one of these names below or will someone else rise to the occasion over the final six rounds to join the likes of Thomas Broich, Marcos Flores and Joel Griffiths as recipients of the medal?
Fahid Ben Khalfallah – Melbourne Victory
The Tunisian has enjoyed a superb maiden Hyundai A-League campaign, announcing himself as one of the standout imports in the competition. His direct running, impeccable close dribbling and raw pace and power have made him standout regularly for Victory – no mean feat in a star-studded side that includes the likes of Besart Berisha, Kosta Barbarouses, Gui Finkler, Mark Milligan and Archie Thompson. He leads the competition for assists and there wouldn’t be a defender in the league that would enjoy having to mark-up on him, which makes him a genuine contender for the Hyundai A-League’s top individual prize.
Marc Janko – Sydney FC
After a slow start to his A-League career, Janko is firing at just the right time…and in a very big way. The giant Austrian has surged clear at the top of the goal-scorers charts with 16 for the season, four clear of second-placed Burns. And the majority have come since the return from the Asian Cup break, with 12 goals in his last seven appearances, also breaking the record for scoring in seven consecutive matches. He needs just six more over the last five games (he will miss this month’s clash against Wellington on international duty) to beat Besart Berisha (21) for most goals in a single season. If he does that – and help the Sky Blues win some silverware – Janko would be a worthy winner of the award.
Nathan Burns – Wellington Phoenix
A key member of Phoenix’s rise to the A-League summit, Burns is sure to poll well. It’s not just his goals which have been vital for the Kiwis – he sits second on the goal-scorers charts with 12 – but his pace and movement has created holes and opportunities for his team-mates. Burns has undoubtedly benefited from working under wily boss Ernie Merrick, taking his game to a new level this season which not only has him in career-best form but also win a call-up too the Socceroo squad for January’s Asian Cup triumph. If he can add a few more goals to his name and help Phoenix go all the way to the title, picking up the medal is not out of the question.
Marcelo Carrusca – Adelaide United
Carrusca has enjoyed arguably his most consistent season in the Hyundai A-League. His importance to the Reds’ title hopes has been obvious, with Josep Gombau’s outfit struggling for results when the skilful playmaker has missed games through injury. Thankfully that hasn’t been the case too often this season for Adelaide. It’s not just Carrusca’s flair and creativity which has been impressive but he’s also scoring goals, finding the net six times and setting up three others already in 2014/15. If he can stay fit for the rest of the campaign then Adelaide are a serious contender for the title – and Carrusca is a big shout to join Marcos Flores as Argentine’s in Adelaide to have won the medal.
Milos Dimitrijevic - Sydney FC
The Serbian has been in such strong form this season that his coach Graham Arnold publicly put his name forward for the medal just a few weeks ago. And it’s hard to argue given the contribution he has made to Sydney FC’s rise up the ladder this season. A perfect link-up man between the defence and attack, Dimitrijevic’s experience and polish has been a feature of the Sky Blues’ improvement and fluidity in their build-up play throughout the campaign. Has scored two goals – including a stunner against Brisbane in round three – while his set-piece deliver has been a feature of his game as well, with four assists. He might not get the headlines of some other players but Dimitrijevic is a serious contender.
Danny Vukovic – Perth Glory
It’s been seven years since an Australian has taken out the Johnny Warren medal and never has a goalkeeper won the award. But Vukovic deserves to at least be among the candidates after a stellar season for Glory. The experienced gloveman – along with Mariners skipper John Hutchinson – is the most-capped player in Hyundai A-League history now and is enjoying arguably his best-ever season. While Glory have been at the top of the table for 17 out of 21 weeks, Vukovic has been among the busiest ‘keepers, making the second-most saves this season with 70. That illustrates just how important he has been to Perth’s success and why he could be a dark-horse should Glory go all the way.