Motherwell manager Stuart Kettlewell believes Kevin van Veen deserves to be in contention for the Gallagher Premiership player of the year award.
The Dutchman scored his 25th goal of a stellar personal campaign in Saturday’s 2-0 victory over Kilmarnock, after Blair Spittal had given Well an early lead.
The Celtic trio of Kyogo Furuhashi, Cameron Carter-Vickers and Reo Hatate are expected to be among the leading contenders when the nominations are announced by PFA Scotland next week but Kettlewell also made the case for Van Veen.
He said: “If I was a player I would vote for him. But I’m not in control of any of that stuff. I think he’s had a brilliant season, not just his goalscoring.
“It’s about how he approaches it every single week. You have to pitch his personal achievements up against most in the division.
“It’s great that at Motherwell we’ve got a striker that everybody is talking about. He had a moment in the first half where he chops inside with a Cruyff turn after the ball came down with snow on it. That was pretty amazing as well.”
Van Veen is likely to move on from Fir Park in the summer but Kettlewell insists the speculation has not affected the Dutchman’s form.
He added: “We all know what he’s capable of but sometimes it’s not just about the player, it’s about the person. I thought he handled himself absolutely brilliantly as well.
“There’s plenty of hype and talk about him and it’s very easy to think the players are like robots and can keep just churning it out. I’m more delighted with the person today than the player.
“I’ve said it before but if Kevin – or other players – aren’t doing it then we’re not speaking about it.
“And we’ve now got a situation where we are talking about it – although I don’t want to talk about it too much. Just in general you want people to speak about your players when they’re doing well.
“Nothing changes from where we are. The players are all in it for the cause and approaching every game the way they should do, whether there’s speculation or not. That’s the demands I put on them.
“They’re not going out there thinking about what might happen in four or five weeks’ time. We’re just focusing on each game.”
Kilmarnock are now just one point off the bottom of the table but have three of their final four matches at Rugby Park.
Manager Derek McInnes hopes that will play in their favour.
He said: “We needed a win away from home because we can’t be totally dependent on our home form. But the stats show how strong we have been at home, and we’ve got to try and utilise that.
“We’re going to have a big support at home next week against Livingston. Livi are safe, and there is more on the game from our point of view clearly, and we need to demonstrate that in our performance.”