With World Cup qualifying underway and a World Cup looming, the English National Team's five best players for 2012 have been announced. The shortlist takes into account national performances only and are selected via an expert panel and fan votes.
Announced of the FA's website, the nominees for the 2012 England Player of the Year are: Ashley Cole (Chelsea), Steven Gerrard (Liverpool), Joe Hart (Manchester City), Glen Johnson (Liverpool) and Danny Welbeck (Manchester United). All the players listed featured during England's unsuccessful Euro 2012 campaign, but have proven reliable call-ups nonetheless.
Two past winners in the form of Ashley Cole and Steven Gerrard grace the list. Combined, the two internationals have amassed 199 caps for the national side. Following the John Terry saga, Gerrard was awarded the captain's armband in Roy Hodgson's squad, taking to the field 10 times as leader of the team. Cole, although not formally recognised as captain, provides valuable stability down the left flank.
Manchester City keeper Joe Hart isn't a surprising inclusion on the list. Hart has kept five clean sheets in 11 appearances for the Three Lions. Although his last outing for England wasn't pretty (conceded four goals at the hands of an impressive Ibrahimovic), he has proved reliable for the most part.
Versatile wing-back Glenn Johnson and Manchester United young gun Danny Welbeck grace the shortlist for the first time in their careers. Although an able left-back, Johnson has generally featured as a right-back for the national side, amassing nine caps this year.
Much like Ashley Cole, the Liverpool man has proved an effective outlet for the national side to get forward. During the nine times he has appeared this year, he has assisted in keeping four clean sheets.
Since his inclusion as a regular in Hodgson's squad, Danny Welbeck has netted five goals for England. Alongside domestic counterpart Wayne Rooney, the 22-year-old has developed an unbreakable partnership and is my pick to take out the prestigious award.
The awards will be announced on Sunday, February 3, 2013. You can vote for the awards on the FA's website.