IT'S that time of the season again, when thoughts turn to the annual player-of-the-year awards - at least this takes the mind off all those lingering fears of relegation.

It's been a strange old campaign, and no one Colchester United player has stood out. No one is certainly a shoe-in for the end-of-season accolades.

But here are my top three candidates:

1 BRIAN WILSON: The current U's skipper has been Mr Consistent this season, as indeed he is just about every year. Brian has rarely put a foot wrong, at right-back, and has hit top form during the run-in with a deserved couple of man-of-the-match awards. To that end, he gets my vote.

2 JABO IBEHRE: A real crowd's favourite, Jabo has led the U's front-line superbly during his two stints with the U's, initially on loan from MK Dons before his return on a short-term permanent contract. He is the joint leading scorer with eight goals, and has an uncanny knack of seeing out games by shepherding the ball towards a distant corner flag for several minutes! He's a strong contender - and he has the biggest smile at the club!

3 FREDDIE SEARS: A six-week lay-off with a knee injury came at just the wrong time for Freddie, otherwise he would probably be the favourite. Freddie has still scored eight goals this season, and those goals have been a primse reason why the U's recovered from a nine-game losing streak to climb out of the relegation zone. He is certainly a big talent.

OUTSIDER: Sam Walker has made a huge difference, since his loan switch from Chelsea. The giant keeper has commanded his area, and pulled off some wonderful saves, including a penalty save to secure a recent home win over Leyton Orient. Interviewing him, he is one of the few players to make my neck ache!