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Kante, Hazard up for PFA player of year award

Chelsea’s N’Golo Kante (left) and Eden Hazard are on the six-strong shortlist for England’s Professional Footballers’ Association Player of the Year award © AFP/File / Glyn KIRK

LONDON, United Kingdom, Apr 13 – N’Golo Kante and Eden Hazard have seen their key roles in Chelsea’s bid for the Premier League title acknowledged with nominations for England’s Professional Footballers’ Association Player of the Year award.

The duo were on a six-strong shortlist announced Thursday that also included Arsenal’s Alexis Sanchez, Manchester United’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Everton’s Romelu Lukaku and Tottenham Hotspur’s Harry Kane.

Kante, who could now win the Premier League title with two different clubs in successive seasons, was shortlisted last year for his part in Leicester City’s astonishing 5,000/1 triumph but did not even make the top three for an award won by his then Foxes team-mate Riyad Mahrez.

The 2016/17 season winner will be announced at London’s Grosvenor House hotel on April 23.

Hazard won the award two years ago when Chelsea last won the Premier League and has been an influential figure in the Blues’ latest push to be crown champions of England.

Lukaku is currently the Premier League’s top scorer with 23 goals so far this season, while fellow forward Ibrahimovic has 17 goals in his first campaign in English football.

Kane, the only Englishman among the nominees, has scored 19 goals for Spurs while, across north London, Sanchez’s 18 goals have been a rare highlight in an otherwise disappointing season for Arsenal.

Spurs and England star Kane has also been shortlisted for the Young Player of the Year award alongside club colleague Dele Alli, with both the senior and junior honours voted for by England’s top-flight professional players.

Alli, 21 on Tuesday, won this award last year and his 16 goals this season have helped Spurs become London rivals Chelsea’s closest challengers for the title.

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But Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino claimed Alli should have been nominated for the senior award after such a fine season.

“He deserves it because he’s showing great performances every week and in every game,” Pochettino said.

“After his first season in the Premier League, always the people want to see if he can confirm all that he showed last season.

“Not only did he confirm that, he’s improved in all aspects of his game. That means he’s clever, intelligent, still with potential to improve.

“He’s showing he’s one of the best players in the Premier League.”

Also nominated for the Young Player of the Year award are Lukaku, Sunderland goalkeeper Jordan Pickford, Burnley defender Michael Keane and Manchester City winger Leroy Sane.

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