The News & Star today asks readers to choose their Carlisle United player of the year - to vote, visit

It has been, to say the least, an eventful season of ups and downs at Brunton Park – and now it’s time to reward the player who has done more than most to keep the Blues going in the right direction.

The News & Star’s player of the year award for 2018/19 will honour the individual who has shone the brightest in a campaign which looks set to produce drama until the very closing stages.

Our annual prize has been won in recent seasons by the likes of Nicky Adams, Danny Grainger, Kyle Dempsey and, last year, the superb veteran defender Clint Hill.

Who is fit to follow those men and lift our prestigious readers’ prize?

From a season which has seen some dramatically different periods of collective form, a few obvious contenders stand out.

One is a man who was not even in the side on the opening day of the campaign yet, since late August, has generally been a model of consistency – and sometimes brilliance.

Goalkeeper Adam Collin, who returned to Brunton Park in the summer after leaving Notts County, had to play second fiddle to Middlesbrough loanee Joe Fryer from the beginning of the campaign.

Regrettably, Fryer’s promising United start ended with a broken leg against Crewe. Collin stepped in, and has since shown why it was such sound business to bring him back to the Blues.

Whether in Carlisle’s patchy start to 2018/19, their outstanding winter or their more mixed efforts since the January transfer window, the man from Great Salkeld has been a reliable figure between the Blues’ posts.

Every so often the big 34-year-old has also produced something special. His display against Bury recently was arguably the individual performance of Carlisle’s season.

It is likely to remain fresh in the memory when votes are cast, and Collin will surely be a strong contender to be the first keeper to take our player-of-the-year trophy since Keiren Westwood in 2008.

The outfield ranks, though, will provide stiff competition in certain cases.

Jamie Devitt was a runner-up to Hill last season and his excellent second-half of 2017/18 has continued with a largely influential season in midfield this time.

A number of assists and another double-figure goals return has seen Devitt established as Carlisle’s most creative influence.

Among his best periods were a run of five goals from four games in November while, in January, he was voted League Two’s player of the month by supporters.

Often capable of an eye-catching goal, and lately rewarded with the captain's armband, it would be a surprise if the 28-year-old does not figure highly in supporters’ thinking.

United’s leading goalscorer is Hallam Hope and the forward’s output since December in particular could also put him in contention.

From the middle of that month, the former Everton and Bury man has averaged a goal every two games. Hope, now a Barbados international, is enjoying the best scoring season of his career and in a period when victories have not been flowing, one can reflect how much worse things might have been without his efforts in the box.

From those who have stayed the course over most of the season, Kelvin Etuhu will also attract support after putting in a much more substantial season than in his first campaign in Cumbria.

The 30-year-old has enjoyed a better time of it in terms of fitness and, as a result, form, becoming a strong presence in Carlisle’s midfield and a physical, hard-working foil for younger accomplices in the centre of the park.

Defensively, the mainstays have been Gary Liddle, Anthony Gerrard and Tom Parkes, with Danny Grainger also a regular feature even though injuries have reduced his appearance tally.

Liddle has seldom found himself out of the side and has again demonstrated his versatility both at right-back and centre-half. This season saw him pass the milestone of 600 career appearances and also brought a rare goal for the defender, in the 6-0 annihilation of Oldham.

Although Gerrard lost his place against Bury two weekends ago, after what Steven Pressley described as a loss of form, the centre-half had until then been a constant at the back.

Certainly, his know-how has, at times, ensured United’s backline has remained solid, and it should not be forgotten how, in the anxious early weeks of the season, his arrival under John Sheridan added crucial experience. There were further periods when the 33-year-old was a real asset when Carlisle found themselves under siege.

Gerrard is also close to the forefront when it comes to league starts for United this term, while Parkes, too, has been a mostly strong performer in his second Blues campaign, receiving praise from Pressley early in his reign and proving useful not just at centre-half in more recent times.

Grainger’s season has provided some memorable moments, enough of them to earn the Cumbrian the League Two player of the month gong for December and highlights including that stunning last-minute winner against Newport which shook United out of a slump.

Senior men with fewer appearances to their name, but who have recently fought their way back well into favour, are defender Gary Miller and midfielder Mike Jones. In defence, Macaulay Gillesphey has totted up a number of useful appearances, often in Grainger’s stead on the left, before a knee operation cut his season short.

It cannot be disregarded, meanwhile, that United’s season was propelled towards the halfway point by some excellent loan additions.

Their first months of the season, for instance, would not have risen to such heights without Ashley Nadesan, Jerry Yates and Jack Sowerby.

Fleetwood forward Nadesan signed off with nine goals and Rotherham’s Yates seven, the result of a fantastic late burst. Sowerby’s contributions became excellent once he got a regular run in his favoured midfield, and the fact United struggled for form immediately after the trio had gone says everything about their impact.

Regan Slater, loaned for the season from Sheffield United, has built up some valuable experience in midfield and provided plenty of energy and effort – and one stand-out day when he scored twice at Swindon.

Of the more recent batch, Callum O’Hare has shown some genuine signs of why Aston Villa rate him so highly.

A more likely winner, though, should be one who has contributed to the Cumbrian cause from the outset.

As ever, it’s your call.

To cast your vote, visit

Deadline for voting is midnight on Thursday, April 25.

*Only players who have started 12 or more league games this season are eligible