Quartet up for PFA Scotland gong

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.”