Scottish Team of the half-season
With the winter break drawing to a close, the 12 Scottish Premiership teams are preparing for the second-half of the season as the title race and chase for Europe sits in the balance. Adam Mackintosh looks at the best eleven from so far this season.
Allan McGregor – Rangers – Eyebrows were raised when the experienced goalkeeper was signed with Wes Foderingham already the established number one at the club, but McGregor soon showed why he was brought back to the club. He was vital to Rangers’ qualification for the Europa League group stage and continued that form into a league campaign that has seen them go into the winter break level on points with Celtic.
Jason Kerr – St Johnstone – The Scotland Under-21 defender played a major part in a record-breaking top-flight run of six consecutive clean sheets. It was Kerr’s goal away to Motherwell that started off a run of five wins in a row and propelled the Saints up the table. His form has linked with a Scotland call-up and a possible move away.
Craig Halkett – Livingston – Before the season started, it was difficult to find many pundits that had tipped Livingston to stay up, but they have confounded all expectations and the centre-back has been key to that success. Halkett is part of Livi defence that is the third best in the league only behind Celtic and Rangers. He has also contributed at the other end, with three goals to his name. With his contract up at the end of the season, he is surely likely to attract interest.
Filip Benkovic – Celtic – The deadline day signing on loan from Leicester has been a standout in the Celtic defence. His influence was such that his first league defeat in a Celtic jersey was the last game before the winter break at Ibrox. He looks to be an important figure in the second half of the season after Leicester confirmed that he would be staying at Celtic for the rest of the season.
James Tavernier – Rangers – The Rangers captain has been one of their key men as they sit second in the league, behind Celtic on goal difference. The full-back is approaching double figures in terms of both goals and assists showing his value to the team beyond his defensive capabilities.
Ryan Christie – Celtic – The former Aberdeen and Inverness midfielder has been a revelation in the Celtic’s midfield becoming almost undroppable for the champions. Christie was in-and-out the team until the end of October when he scored three goals in three games and hasn’t looked back since. His form kept Celtic captain Scott Brown – who was returning from injury – out of the team.
Alan Power – Kilmarnock – Last year’s Kilmarnock fans player of the season has continued his form as Kilmarnock went into the winter break just a point behind Celtic and Rangers at the top of the table. His role in the Killie midfield is often overlooked but it has been vital to their success this season. He even popped up with a goal, scoring the equaliser away to St Mirren in a game in which Kilmarnock went onto win.
Callum McGregor – Celtic – McGregor, for a number of seasons, has been seen as a utility player for Celtic, playing in several positions but this season, he has made the central midfield position his own. The 25-year-old, who signed a new five-year contract in December, has made 44 appearances already for club and country this season. His more reserved position in midfield has meant that McGregor only has one league goal to his name, but he has made up for that with six assists.
Max Lowe – Aberdeen – It was an early blow to Aberdeen’s January transfer business when it was announced that Derby were recalling Lowe at the opening of the transfer window. During his 19 appearances for the club, the fullback showed his defensive and attacking capabilities keeping experienced defender Andrew Considine out of the team.
Alfredo Morelos – Rangers – The league’s top scorer has been the driving force for Rangers with 13 league goals so far. His mix of quality, hard work and aggression make Morelos one of the best strikers in the division and make him priceless to Rangers. It is not just the number of goals that the Colombian has scored but the importance of the goals, scoring winners away to Hearts and St Johnstone.
Greg Stewart – Kilmarnock – Whether playing on the wing or up front alongside Eamonn Brophy, Stewart has been vital to Killie’s success this season. The 28-year-old has scored eight goals and provided six assists in the league this season, bamboozling many a defender along the way. Like Max Lowe at Aberdeen, his excellent form has not gone unnoticed as his parent club Birmingham recalled him and we will see in future weeks how the loss of an influential player will affect Killie.