It was not among the awards presented at Highbury last weekend but John Sheridan has chosen the best player of his Fleetwood Town reign.
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Leeds loan star Lewie Coyle lifted the players’ player of the year prize at the annual ceremony but was pipped in the fans’ vote by fellow defender Ash Eastham.
Coyle, 22, who also returns to Elland Road with the Junior Cod Army player of the year gong, was praised by ex-Leeds player Sheridan for his attitude and approach to training.
Town’s departing head coach says a lot of players can learn from the right-back’s ethos as he aims to break into Leeds’ Championship team after a season-long loan with Fleetwood .
Sheridan, who will be replaced by Joey Barton next month, hailed Coyle the best player of his 13-game spell at Highbury .
Sheridan said: “If I was going to pick a best player while I’ve been here I’d pick him, just for the way he plays, goes about his job and the way he works.
“He is only a young lad but I think a lot of players could look at him and think, ‘I need to be like him’, because if they are they have a chance of a good career.”
Coyle was a regular starter but fellow loan defenders Kevin O’Connor and Charlie Oliver did not get a kick under Sheridan, having failed to make an impact when Uwe Rosler was in charge.
O’Connor returns to Preston after making only five appearances, while Oliver heads back to Manchester City having managed only a 45-minute cameo against Scunthorpe after Eastham was sent off.
Markus Schwabl is another who couldn’t break into Sheridan’s team to build on his 20 appearances under Rosler, while fellow midfielder George Glendon also struggled for game-time under the latest head coach and has been released.
Sheridan says the most difficult part of his job was whittling down his squad for a match day, with top scorer Jordy Hiwula and experienced attacker Bobby Grant usually on the bench, while young pair Jack Sowerby and Harrison Biggins managed more minutes and Ash Hunter shook off his ‘impact player’ tag by starting every game during Sheridan’s tenure.
Sheridan, who inherited a team teetering on the edge of the drop zone and steered Town to 14th, said: “One of the hardest things I find as a manager is that I can only pick 11 players and seven subs. I’ve probably got 23 players around and I find it difficult.”
“I try to explain as best as I can to the players why I pick so and so because they all want to play.
“It does not bother me if they are moody or upset because they are not playing.
“I like that in a player because they can knock on my door and I will try to explain as best I can.
“I’m on their side but they all want to play and I can only pick 11.”