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FSA Women’s Player of the Year 2019 nominees

Voting remains open in the FSA Awards 2019 in association with BeGambleAware, and the Women’s Player of the Year is one of the most coveted titles up for grabs. Previous winners include the Arsenal pair of Beth Mead (2018) and Sari van Veenendaal (2016), and Man City’s Jill Scott (2017), and it could be a showdown between those two WSL heavyweights again, with City’s Steph Houghton and Arsenal’s Vivianne Miedema (pictured above) doing battle alongside four other fan favourites.

We asked Jen O’Neill from leading women’s football magazine SheKicks to run the rule over our six nominees, in case you needed a little help in deciding how to cast your vote.

Sophie Baggaley (Bristol City Women)

Soon-to-be 23 year-old goalkeeper Sophie Baggaley had a tremendous 2018-19 season, ever-present as part of a plucky, young Bristol City side who finished 6th in the FA WSL. The foundations of their campaign – many of their impressive results came in tight games – were built on their solid and dogged defensive displays, and relied on Baggaley’s concentration, bravery and shot-stopping abilities.

The England U23s keeper kept six clean sheets in the league for the Robins, and impressed her peers and supporters alike: she was included in the PFA Team of the Year, and also picked up the PFA FA WSL Fan’s Player of the Year, having scooped two of the monthly awards.

Steph Houghton (Manchester City Women)

The Manchester City and Lionesses centre-back and skipper played more competitive domestic games than any other FA WSL performer last season (30 across all competitions, matched only by team mate Keira Walsh). Not only the leader, organiser and a rock in defence, Houghton also weighed in with some crucial goals as well, netting four times.

She lifted both the League and FA Cup trophies in a season where they almost went unbeaten domestically, losing 1-0 in the dying seconds of their final WSL game against Champions Arsenal. Oh, and England fans may have noticed the 31-year-old had quite an eventful summer kicking a ball about in France too.

Rachel Furness (Tottenham Hotspur Women)

Voted Reading FC Women’s Player of the Year for 2018-19, the Northern Ireland international stalwart was occasionally deployed up front as well as in her more traditional central midfield role.

A quest to secure regular first-team action saw the 31-year-old head to Spurs on loan for this campaign, and her ever-positive, big-hearted, tough-tackling and goal-getting style made her an instant hit for the FA WSL debutantes.

Aoife Mannion (Manchester City Women)

For many, Aoife Mannion has been one of the most under-rated performers in the FA WSL in recent years. Rarely bettered by opposing forwards, her battling and tidy defensive qualities were again pivotal to the stingy Birmingham City backline in 2018-19. Starting every game for the Blues in the league last season, the 23-year-old’s talent and consistency earned her a move to Manchester City over the summer and a deserved first call-up to the England senior squad in August.

Cruelly, she suffered an ACL knee injury in Champions League action against Atletico Madrid in October. She is the sort of humble and reliable character that supporters really warm to, and all will be wishing her a speedy recovery and return to her best, as soon as possible.

Vivianne Miedema (Arsenal Women)

Vivianne Miedema is simply a goal-scoring phenomenon. As Arsenal stormed to the FA WSL title, the 23-year-old Dutch striker was banging them in from left, right and centre, breaking the single-season scoring record for the league with 22 goals (29 in all competitions) in the process.

Miedema’s form then continued right through into the World Cup, helping fire the Netherlands to their first global final. Her almost languid style belies a deadly ability to find the net, and to also make space and openings for team-mates, while Miedema’s modesty and low-key celebrations (the forward roll when she scored her 60th to became all-time top scorer for the Dutch, in June, aside!) make her an amiable as well as admirable player.

Beth England (Chelsea FC Women)

2019 has been a breakthrough year for versatile forward Beth England. Following a successful year on loan at Liverpool in 2017-18 she returned to Chelsea to force her way into the side, top-scoring for the club with an impressive 22 goals throughout the season (eight of those coming in the league cup).

She packs power, good aerial ability and can operate across the front line, in midfield or even at wing-back, but it is up front where the 25-year-old has found her form for the Blues and the Lionesses, making her debut in August against Belgium and bagging her first international goal at Boro in October. Goal-getters are always crowd-pleasers, but it’s also England’s ardent work-ethic that makes her a fans’ favourite.

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