Kris coining in goals puts Virgil value in shade

VIRGIL VAN DIJK is predicted to have a disappointing end to a glorious debut season for Celtic.

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Stokes reckons Kris Commons, left, is the front runner to land top gong ahead of  Virgil van Dijk
Stokes reckons Kris Commons, left, is the front runner to land top gong ahead of Virgil van Dijk

And Kris Commons will be to blame.

The short-list for the PFA Scotland Player of the Year award will be announced tomorrow.

And, while there is every chance the Dutch defender will make it into the final four, Anthony Stokes reckons he could be pipped at the post by goal-machine Commons.

The Hoops striker has been hugely impressed by both men, and said: "Virgil has been outstanding this year, and can go to the very top in the game.

"He's one of the best young defenders I have ever seen.

"But I'd probably give it to Kris, just for his goals and influence in games.

"He's been massive for us this season and has had the biggest impact of any player I can see in the league.

"He sees a pass, while his goals have taken his game to a new level."

The Republic of Ireland forward continued: "Kris is quite opinionated, but he makes valid points.

"He's not the type to shout and roar, but he will pull someone aside and, if he has something to say, he will say it.

"That's respected in the dressing room."

However, Stokes knows from past experience this is a vote which is notoriously difficult to predict.

Last year, not one Celtic player made it to the short list, irking manager Neil Lennon who had watched his side land a league and Scottish Cup double and reach the last 16 of the Champions League.

The explanation given then was that, so many Celtic players had received votes, they had been spread too widely for any of them to be in the running, with Motherwell's Michael Higdon claiming the gong.

Stokes smiled when asked if he bought that, and said diplomatically: "The votes can be erratic. I think it's hard to look past those two. But you never know, and it will be interesting to see."

Stokes was helping promote the club's own awards. And the Celtic goal of the season nominations - which the fans will decide - include two of his own.

But his vote goes to James Forrest's £20million strike against Shakhter Karagandy in the Champions League play-off.

He laughed: "I set that up. I put it on a plate for him and he hasn't shut up about it since.

"He told me he thought he'd actually missed it."

Fans can vote for the Magners' Goal of the Season, and other awards, at celticfc.net/poy2014.

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