Quartet up for PFA Scotland gong
Wed, 24 Apr 2013 16:27:00
Bolton skipper Kevin Davies has turned down the opportunity to join Toronto FC when his contract at the Reebok Stadium ends in the summer.
Former Blackburn defender Ryan Nelsen, who is Toronto's coach, has been keen to lure the 36-year-old striker to the MLS outfit.
Davies, who will end his 10-year stint at Bolton this season, did contemplate the switch before deciding against linking up with Nelsen.
"It has been a complete roller coaster since first speaking with Ryan Nelsen on 18th April. As it stands today I will not be leaving for Toronto FC as reported," Davies said.
"My young family and I were naturally very excited about the opportunity of going to Toronto on a short-term deal but after legal advice we felt that certain obstacles put in our way were too large to overcome.
"Whilst it has been the toughest month of my 10 year BWFC career I remain, as I always have done, 100% committed to the club.
"I will be ready if the manager needs me and hopefully have a part to play in helping the club return to The Premier League.
"I have some fantastic memories of the last 10 years and feel honoured to have been the captain of this great club for the last five years. Hopefully it will finish with a fairy tale ending."
The 22-year-old Republic of Ireland midfielder is aware that champions Manchester United are reportedly the latest to join the lengthening list of top-flight clubs who are believed to be keeping tabs on him.
McCarthy joined Latics from Hamilton four years ago and signed a new five-year contract in 2011 after developing into a key player for manager Roberto Martinez.
During his short time in the game he has become adept at focusing on the job in hand which, again this season, is the Latics' survival as Wigan sit in the relegation zone, three points behind Aston Villa albeit with a game in hand.
"I don't want to talk about speculation," said McCarthy.
"The most important thing is to keep Wigan in the Premier League and that is all I am concentrating on.
"I am happy at Wigan, it is a great club to be at.
"I am learning all the time. Roberto Martinez and the coaching staff have been different class and there are a great bunch of boys at this club.
"We are three points adrift and there are massive games coming up but I am confident enough because our recent performances have been good.
"Against Man City we were brilliant at times but perhaps we haven't had the rub of the green and maybe we have not been taking our chances. "So we have been putting in good performances but now we need points.
"We need a few results but we are looking forward to the challenge."
McCarthy believes Wigan's experience in battling at the wrong end of the table may prove crucial in the final analysis.
The Lancashire club have five games to maintain their eight-year stay in the Premier League, starting with the visit of Tottenham on Saturday.
However, the Glaswegian believes the relegation battle may well go down to the last day of the season when they take on Villa.
"It is in our own hands and if we go about our business the right way then we'll be fine," he said.
"We have the experience of being in this position before and we have a good squad who will be giving it our all.
"Hopefully we get enough points not to go into the last game against Aston Villa needing a result but if we do then so be it."
Such is McCarthy's focus on Premier League survival that he cannot yet contemplate the FA Cup final against Manchester City at Wembley next month.
"The gaffer spoke to us, saying that we need to concentrate on the league so we can't be thinking about the FA Cup final," he said.
"But everyone knows how massive it is to stay in the Premier League.
"We need to get points on the board and the FA Cup final will take care of itself."
The England defender has had another excellent season but his performances did not do enough to see him recognised by his fellow professionals in the PFA Player of the Year nominations.
None of the six selected are defenders but Howard insisted Baines' contribution was vital to the team.
"With Bainesy at left-back it's not a glamour position and I think it's hard sometimes to see just how effective he is," he said.
"He's our key cog. We've got (Marouane) Fellaini and (Steven) Pienaar and those guys, and obviously Kevin Mirallas, can produce a bit of magic.
"But without Bainesy this team doesn't go. It's just hard sometimes for people on the outside to see that."
Howard insists the squad have not felt sorry for themselves after last weekend's defeat at Sunderland effectively ended their chase for Champions League qualification.
European football is still a slim hope for David Moyes' side through fifth place in the league, although that looks increasingly more difficult as they trail Tottenham by five points having played one match more.
"We won't let one setback knock us," Howard told evertonTV ahead of this weekend's visit of Fulham, against whom they have won 12 and drawn one of their 13 meetings at Goodison Park.
"We have to perform at home, we know that, and when you are on your home pitch you have to push the tempo."
The quartet have been shortlisted for the association's Player of the Year gong having been nominated by their fellow professionals, whose votes will decide who succeeds Celtic's Charlie Mulgrew.
On-loan Wolves frontman Griffiths has scored 25 goals during his temporary Easter Road switch this season, with his double over Falkirk earlier this month helping to fire the Leith outfit to the William Hill Scottish Cup final for the second season running.
Fir Park striker Higdon, meanwhile, is the Scottish Premier League's top marksman overall with 24 top-flight strikes and 25 overall, helping propel the Steelmen up to second in the SPL standings.
And McGinn has also enjoyed a breakout season since former Pittodrie boss Craig brown converted him from winger to deadly poacher following his switch Brentford in the summer, bagging 19 goals for the Reds in the process.
Inverness playmaker Shinnie has also had a season to remember, earning himself a summer move to Birmingham with a series of influential displays for the Highlanders and a career-high tally of 15 goals so far.
In the Young Player of the Year category, Victor Wanyama is SPL champions Celtic's only award nominee.
He will face competition from Griffiths - who will hope to emulate former Hoops players Shaun Maloney and Aiden McGeady by winning both the senior and young player prize in the same year - as well as Dundee United pair Stuart Armstrong and Gary Mackay-Steven.
The winners will be announced and presented with their awards at the Hilton Hotel in Glasgow on Sunday, May 5.
PFA Scotland chief executive Fraser Wishart commented: "This is the top award for players. There is no greater honour in football than to be voted the best player in your country by your fellow professionals."