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Player of the Year Candidate: Gary Caldwell

Gary Caldwell of Wigan celebrates scoring with a header during the Barclays Premier League match between Wigan Athletic and Blackburn Rovers at the DW Stadium.
Gary Caldwell of Wigan celebrates scoring with a header during the Barclays Premier League match between Wigan Athletic and Blackburn Rovers at the DW Stadium.

So first up to have their season looked at, is our captain and the clubs winner of player of the season. As I type this, he is winning our vote. And really it is no surprise that a player who has become a fan favourite would win this year award. Gary Caldwell has had a mixed Wigan career so far, when we signed him in the January of 2010. Many people felt that he would come and revitalise our defence.

And he did do that for a time. Showing the characteristics that had made him Scotland's best center back. Strong in the tackle and always putting his body on the line. But after a hip operation last season he never really hit his best, but when he did it still wasn't at the level we expected.

Yet having had a full season under his belt (minus a few suspensions) the captain has been a stand out player. Even though we had a bad patch where we lost eight on the bounce. I never truly felt it was our scottish defenders falt. Gary is getting on a bit, and hasn't got that high level of pace that is often needed as a defender. That was what was catching Wigan out. With Antolin Alcaraz in and out of the side. Gary had no true center back partner to play with, so no cohesion or understanding.

That showed for large portions of the season. With either Adrain Lopez or Steve Gohuri filling in a long side the Scott nothing seemed to work. But even then he was stilling having a great personal season. His ability to read the game and no when to make the tackle and how to make it. Saw many attacks broken up.

That has really been the foundation for our new three centre back partnership. With two faster and more skillful players playing either side of him. It means that Gary can take control of the backline and not have to worry about getting caught in behind when making the tackle.

That has culminated in the team having only conceded 14 goals in their last 15 games. A truly remarkable record for a team which had conceded 18 goals in six games before that run. And it has been down to the turn round in how we have used our talented centre back. He has been able to focus more on sorting the defenced out. Than worrying about having to catch players that are faster than him on the turn.

Yet also this season Gary has taken his role as captain to a new level. When many of the fans and most of the players felt we were on our way down. He still played like we could so it and believed we could. He quite litteraly dragged the players kicking and screaming into playing football.

As captain you are expected to carry out the manager's wishes on the pitch. I don't think Martinez could have asked for more from Gary this year. As Caldwell is one to pass the ball and then pass it again, while trying to break forward and score himself (he has bagged three this year, including an important one against Bolton).

Truly a great season for our captain and it would be the icing on the cake for him, if he were to be part of the Olympic GB squad.