10. MITCH NICHOLS
Since signing with the
Western Sydney Wanderers this season, Mitch Nichols looks like an invigorated
The 26 year old attacking
midfielder has made his name over the years scoring stunning goals.
Since leaving Brisbane
Roar, Nichols struggled to settle into a team after a stint to Japanese side
Cerezo Osaka saw him only appear on six occasions.
Wanderers coach Tony Popovic’s
decision to sign Nichols has paid off immensely.
Nichols has scored six
goals this season, and is the third highest goal scorer in the A-League.
His link up play with
Spanish trio Andreu, Alberto Aguilar and Dimas Delgado makes for entertaining
football. It’s evident that Nichols is enjoying his football, which is bringing
out the best in him and his team.
To put things in
perspective, Nichols shares a high passing accuracy at 78.1 percent, only two
percent off Australia’s hottest midfielder right now Aaron Mooy.
Defenders have struggled
to deal with the deadly ball user this season, who has run them ragged with his
powerful engine. Nichols has scored two goals from outside the box with his
killer right foot, contending for goals of the year.
The Wanderers are
currently nine games undefeated, in a season which could see them win their
first Hyundai A-League Championship. If Nichols can stay injury free and
consistent, he could be a potential rival to Aaron Mooy for player of the year.
9. MARK MILLIGAN
Most players start to slow
down at 30 years of age, but not Mark Milligan.
The tough central
midfielder has had an unbeilievable year, after winning the 2015 Asian Cup with
the Socceroos and winning the 2014-15 Hyundai A-League Championship this year. Milligan
was awarded with the Joe Marston medal, an accolade held in high regard for the
best player in the grand final.
His dominance in the
midfield is precedent to the hard work he puts out on the pitch. The midfielder
often plays box to box, which has seen him score goals, save goals and shut out
some of the best midfielders in the game.
His ability to take authority
in the midfield is a quality which illustrates why he is a consistent starter
in the Socceroos squad.
Milligan is a born leader,
and showed that at Melbourne Victory, captaining the side to glory this season.
His success led him to a
big transfer move to Baniyas FC in the UAE Arabian Gulf League.
Milligan has marked his
regular place in the team, recording three assists whilst capping off the year
with his first goal for Baniyas this week.
8. MILE JEDINAK
When in form, Socceroos
Captain Mile Jedinak is a machine that never stops until he drops.
The Crystal Palace
captain/midfielder has had an interesting year, struggling for selection due to
the replacement of his old manager Tony Pulis.
Jedinak has appeared 10
times for Crystal Palace this season, and has thrown himself back into the
Socceroos starting side.
Mile is as strong as an
ox. The holding midfielder provides dominance in the air against opposing
midfielders. His ability to intercept opposition threats and also send through
balls to forwards makes him a danger man. Jedinak tallied up 20 interceptions,
32 duels won and a passing accuracy of 83 percent for the Socceroos this year. The
31 year old scored goal of the season against Liverpool and was awarded goal of
the year at the 2015 Crystal Palace awards night.
Jedinak’s career has been
a fast paced one. Going from state league footballer to Socceroo in two years. He
holds an amazing national resume, scoring a goal at the 2014 World Cup, and
winning the Asian Cup in 2015.
There is no doubt the Socceroos
captain will be determined to play on to 2018 for the World Cup in Russia.
7. JAMIE MACLAREN
Brisbane Roar forward
Jamie Maclaren is one of Australia’s brightest talents.
The 22 year old is a born goal
scorer, who knows how to find the back of the net.
Maclaren scored 9 goals
last season, finishing as the sixth highest scorer in the A-League for 2014/15.
The young Olyroo has had
two promising back to back years, and is now the most dangerous striker in the
A-League. Maclaren is the third highest scorer so far with six goals, and also
has two assists to his name.
Maclaren’s hard work hasn’t
gone unnoticed, as he was selected for the Olyroos squad for 2016 AFC U-23
Championship Qualification. Maclaren played in two of three games, scoring a
hat-trick against Hong Kong and a brace against Myanmar. He was the second
highest goalscorer in the AFC for the qualification stage.
Maclaren is a striker
beyond his years. His mental awareness and ability to create something out of
nothing is a rare talent to find. There are only a handful of strikers who
possess this skill and Maclaren is one of them. If the pacey youngster can finish
the season off with a bang, he may be banging on the door for Socceroos
6. NATHAN BURNS
At the peak of his career,
Nathan Burns is in red hot form for club and country.
The 27 year old striker has
had the best year of his career, playing for the Socceoros in the 2015 Asian
Cup and transferring to FC Tokyo.
Burns had a monumental 2014-15 season with
Wellington Pheonix, winning the Johnny Warren Medal. Australia’s most prestigious
award saw him voted as the A-League best player by his peers. Burns scored 13
goals and has been in unstoppable form ever since. It has been refreshing to
see an A-League star convert his form into national success.
The front man scored his first goal for the
Socceroos against Bangladesh in September
Burns has fit right in to the fast Japanese
style of football. The striker scored twice in three games followed by a man of
the match appearance against Japanese giants Gamba Osaka.
Burns has taken his game to the next level
which is why he deserves number 6th spot in our Turf 20.
By Ari Charilaou (He’s also on twitter here) – PHOTOS
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