Why Dean Lewington should be MK Dons' Player of the Year
There are plenty of candidates for Dons' top prize this season, but the skipper has been the absolute stand-out - writes Toby Lock
MK Dons will announce the Player of the Year on Friday night and though there are a few contenders, it should be skipper Dean Lewington with the trophy at the end of the night.
The 36-year-old, in his 19th season as a pro, has never won the award but has been Dons' most consistent performer down the years - exactly the reason he has now racked up over 800 outings for the club.
At the end of every campaign in the last few years, the question over Lewington's future has been on the tip of tongues, but every year he does more than enough to warrant a new deal. And this year might have been one of his best yet.
It would have been easy to predict the end was in sight when the skipper was shifted to the left of a centre-back trio - a position he had previously been vocal on his displeasure for playing. Partnered with the likes of Richard Keogh, George Williams and Warren O'Hora early on in the season, Lewington remained Dons' highest performing defender. With O'Hora finding his feet in his first regular season, Keogh returning from a long-term injury and Williams struggling to stay fit, Lewington's displays in a position he was still getting used to went somewhat under the radar such has been his consistency throughout his career.
But it is that consistency, outside of the position he has plied his trade for, which is why he should win the top award on Friday night. Strong, resilient, astute, unflappable - Lewington's displays have been like he has played at centre back for his entire career, not just on a handful of occasions in 19 years. Recently he has even switched sides to allow Zak Jules to play on the left to get more of a feel for the position.
Lewington's abilities continue to impress his team-mates too, especially the young generation of defenders who surround him in the back-line. And to be honest, there has been little opportunity for anyone to usurp him from his role either, such has been his level of performance this term.
His 800th appearance for the club was marked as the EFL Moment of the Season last week, coming in the 2-1 win over Burton Albion in March, so there is an air of sentiment about his season and perhaps any votes he may collect for Dons' top prize. And there has been some good competition for the gong too - Scott Fraser has been a creative outlet and spark which Dons have lacked down the years since he signed last summer, and Cameron Jerome too has been deadly in front of goal, also an ability Dons have not had for many years. During any other year, either of the pair would be worthy winners.
Evergreen Lewington though has never had a better opportunity to claim the award.