For the second successive month, a Lincoln City player has scooped the PFA Player of the Month award.
Between them, Pett and Shackell shared 49% of the vote, with the industrious midfielder taking 28% and the veteran defender weighing in with 21%. The rest of the field was Sam Surridge (15%), Byron Moore (13%), George Edmundson (12%) and finally Luke Norris on 11%.
Tom Pett is a worthy winner of the award and a player who is growing in stature with every game he plays. At the beginning of the season Imps fans could have been forgiven for overlooking the central midfielder, he played in some of the warm up games that may have been classed as fringe player matches.
Instead, he’s used the extra games to build fitness and strength and has given Danny and real selection headache in the centre of the park. In a recent poll on this site, he was the player with the most votes over a three-way question as to our midfield pairing.
What he brings to the side is versatility. He can operate in front of the back four looking forward, or behind the strikers looking backwards. He’s devious on the ball, tenacious and creative but retaining possession well. Considering many felt he was coming as a winger, I think he’s rewritten his own biography since settling into the middle of the park.
Could there be a more worthy winner than Pett? Even when he was dropped he came on and scored with his first touch, no moods, no dropped head just application and endeavour.
As for Shackell, it is becoming increasingly obvious we pulled of a real coup when we signed him. There’s always a fear when you sign a 35-year old that you’re not getting the best version of someone. As a Lincoln fan we only have to think of names such as Foley, Hebberd, Phillips or Hamilton to know what can happen when a talented veteran drops down to the basement division. That isn’t Jason Shackell at all.
He’s keeping Scott Wharton on the bench, no mean feat at all, and he’s established himself as one part of a ferocious centre back pairing which has to be as good as 95% of the division above ours, let alone League Two. A successful side are not just a threat going forward, but are also stubborn to break down. I don’t think our defence is as drilled as MK Dons for instance, I think we rely as much on hard work as we do natural understanding. Harry Toffolo is an attacking full back and on the left we occasionally look exposed, but Toffolo’s hard work and Shackell’s reading of the game means we’re as tight at the back as anyone.
These awards don’t win you any points and doubtless Pett would point to his team mates and say they deserve it as much as him. Having spoken to Tom he is a very humble and grounded player and on a personal level I’m delighted for him. He’ll take heart from being recognised by the fans, as will Shackell, but both would swap any accolades they receive as individuals for a place in the top three come May.
With them in our side, we stand a better chance than most, that is for sure.