It’s fair to say several eyebrows were raised when the club announced voting for this season’s Barry Butler Memorial Trophy had opened on Wednesday. 

‘It’s far too early’, many fans cried and to be honest, they may have a point. 

Norwich City still have eight Championship games - almost one-fifth - of the season to play and we all know so much can change between now and the end of this most turbulent of campaigns. 

But despite voting opening prematurely for many, nobody is forcing anyone to cast their selection now and the majority - myself included - are likely to wait until the final few fixtures before finally coming to a decision. 

That said, 38 league matches is without doubt a sufficient sample size and for me, there can only be one player who gets their hands on that prestigious Carrow Road trophy.  

There are obviously several players firmly in contention. 

Gabriel Sara has been majestic, gliding around the City midfield and grabbing so many crucial goals and assists.  

Josh Sargent has emerged as probably the standout centre-forward in the division and had he been fit for the duration, it’s highly likely he’d be the player soaring to the summit of the podium. 

Jonathan Rowe is another whose stunning breakthrough season has been scuppered by injury, hopefully returning for the run-in - we all have a fixture in mind - bidding to rediscover the magic he conjured up at both Portman Road and Hull.  

Angus Gunn has been brilliant, Marcelino Nunez has become increasingly integral and Borja Sainz has banished his injury demons to craft a reputation as one of the league’s most red-hot attacking forces. 

The Pink Un: Gabriel Sara is City's reigning player of the season and is in the frame once again this campaign

All six of these players may well enjoy a storming end to season and hopefully, have propelled City into the play-off picture come May 4. 

But while I won’t be voting until much closer to that date, it’s virtually impossible that anything I see will alter my opinion that a certain, ever-dependable Scotsman should be the player who collects the ultimate City accolade. 

Kenny McLean has been a player who has historically divided opinion but this season, looks to finally have cemented himself as a firm fan favourite. 

Both on and off the pitch, the evergreen 32-year-old continues to blaze a trail as one of the club’s most admired assets and after six years of dedicated service, it’s about time his indefatigable efforts were rewarded.  

McLean has been City’s midfield metronome throughout this helter-skelter Championship campaign, complementing Nunez perfectly in recent weeks but even before the Chilean’s reintroduction, catching the eye with his incisive range of passing and tenacity off the ball. 

And when defensive injury crisis struck, the Scotland international answered David Wagner’s call to partner Shane Duffy at the back and help contribute to a miraculous transformation in form that catapulted us back into the top six picture. 

I have always been a huge fan of McLean and felt that at many times over the past six seasons, some of the criticism he has received has been drastically wide of the mark. 

Let’s not forget, this is a player who has been one of the first names on the teamsheet for three consecutive managers and now racked up more than 200 appearances in yellow and green. 

But captaining the side in Grant Hanley’s absence, it now finally feels as though his performances are attracting the universal credit they deserve. 

No one has ever doubted McLean’s attitude and leadership ability, rallying the troops when it matters and never shying away from taking responsibility.  

So it feels fitting to be writing this column ahead of the Good Friday visit of Plymouth, who inflicted that devastating Devon demolition on us back in September and led to such a candid, up-front interview from the visibly hurt City skipper. 

Wagner has spoken openly about City’s desire for a revenge mission - and there will be no player more up for it than McLean, who has stuck with it through thick and thin and will be hellbent on helping his team finish the season on a high. 

Of course, he is not immune to errors and is occasionally capable of those painful passages of play where his radar misfires and passes go astray. 

But after virtually every City game I’ve been to, it’s difficult to recall many where I’ve left the ground thinking McLean had endured a poor performance.  

It may be too early for many and fair enough, it of course makes sense to hold fire on voting until we have a more accurate picture about how this season will end. 

But regardless of the end destination, it’s McLean who will be getting the nod from me after enjoying probably his most rock-solid, impressive and influential Carrow Road season yet.