CLINICAL SAM IS A REAL WINNER
RED-HOT Barnsley striker Sam Winnall has adapted quickly to life in the second tier – and now he’s been rewarded with the Sky Bet Championship Player of the Month award for December.
The 25-year-old netted six times in six appearances in the final month of the year to take his tally for the season to 11 goals. His impressive form has helped Barnsley to eighth place on their return to the Championship this term and marked him out as one to watch.
The former Scunthorpe hitman said: “It’s a great honour and it’s always pleasing to have a personal accolade like this, but it can’t be done without the staff and the other players so it’s testament to how far we’ve come and how well we’re doing as a team this season.
“The fact that our players are getting these awards in recognition for performances shows that we’re doing the right things and everyone is riding the wave of success.”
Tykes boss Paul Heckingbottom has hailed the efforts of his in-form striker, who could become a target for top-flight clubs if he continues to hit the goal trail.
“We’re delighted that Sam has won the award,” said Heckingbottom. “It’s great recognition for the hard work that he’s put in and his impressive form – not just in December, but throughout the season as well.
“He’s been clinical with his finishing and has played a key role in what has been a strong month for us as a club.”
On the manager front, Brighton boss Chris Hughton has scooped the Sky Bet Championship Manager of the Month honour. The Seagulls bagged 13 points from 15 to continue their promotion assault.
The modest manager was happy to deflect the plaudits.
“As a manager it’s always wonderful to win an award, but, in effect, I’m only picking it up on behalf of my staff and, more so, the players,” he said.
“They’ve been outstanding for me and it’s always a nice feeling when the club gets recognised for a way of playing. I’m picking it up on behalf of them.”
In League One, Rochdale cleaned up by claiming both the player and manager accolades.
Dale finished 2016 in fourth place after a superb month that saw them score 11 goals during their four wins from four games, including a 3-2 victory over leaders Scunthorpe.
Defensive midfielder Matty Lund earned the player prize. He was at the heart of Rochdale’s good work – and also weighed in with a hat-trick against Northampton.
The 26-year-old said: “It’s always nice to win an award, but I think any one of the lads who played could have been picked because we’ve been excellent.
“We had an amazing December and the whole team was fantastic. We worked hard, we stuck together as a team and we were solid throughout the month.”
they’ve created the chances for me to put the ball in the back of the net,” said Kashket, who was released by Leyton Orient last summer.
“It’s nice to have scored in every league game in December and hopefully I can keep that run going.
“I’m loving my time here at Wycombe and I’m extremely grateful to the manager for putting his faith in me by bringing me here and giving me the chance to show what I can do.”
Meanwhile, Colchester United manager John McGreal has been chosen as the Manager of the Month after the U’s picked up ten points from four games to continue their charge up the table.
“It’s very flattering to receive the award,” said McGreal. “Steve Ball (assistant coach) and I are obviously delighted, but the credit must go to the players for the way they’ve adapted to what we’ve asked them to do.
“We’ve changed the system, had players come back from injury and the whole squad has had the belief and talent to go out there and perform.”
Dale boss Keith Hill was a deserving recipient of the manager honour.
“I’m really pleased to win the award, but it has been a team effort,” he stressed. “The players deserve a lot of credit for putting our plans into practice on the pitch and they deserve this award in recognition for what we achieved in December.”
In League Two, Wycombe sensation Scott Kashket bagged the Player of the Month honour. The 20-year-old, converted from winger to striker by boss Gareth Ainsworth, scored in each of his side’s four December games.
“Everyone in the team has been doing their jobs to help us win matches and
RISING STAR: Barnsley’s Sam Winnall climbs high to score against Birmingham and, inset, shows off his award
PRIZE GUYS: Rochdale’s Matty Lund, top, and Wycombe’s Scott Kashket, left