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The Jersey Doesn't Shrink Player of the Year 2016-17: Stuart Armstrong

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Celtic v Aberdeen - William Hill Scottish Cup Final
Stuart Armstrong scoring the equaliser in the Scottish Cup Final
Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images

STUART ARMSTRONG 2016-17: GAMES PLAYED 47 GOALS SCORED 17 ASSISTS 7

If ever a player exemplified Brendan Rodgers' first season then it's Stuart Armstrong. He was one of the many Celtic players who looked lost under Ronny Deila but he has improved so much this season that he is the Jersey Doesn't Shrink Player of the Year.

Choosing Armstrong as Player of the Year wasn't an easy task, as the likes of Scott Brown, Moussa Dembele, Scott Sinclair and Kieran Tierney have all had terrific seasons, but none are as important to the team as Stuart Armstrong, in my opinion. He is the man who makes Celtic tick, and our best goal scoring midfielder since Stan Petrov.

It is interesting to remember that Armstrong wasn't in the Celtic team at the start of the season. Despite scoring the fifth against Rangers in the 5-1 win at Celtic Park in September

Armstrong couldn't break into the side, for example he was on the bench for the 3-3 draw with Man City in the Champions League and didn't play any part in the 2-0 defeat to Borussia Mönchengladbach.

However he took his chance in a 4-0 midweek victory against Ross County, scoring a goal and getting an assist.

This performance, in what was a tough magic despite the scoreline, seemed to be the game which changed Brendan Rodgers' mind on Stuart Armstrong, as he was a mainstay in the side for the rest of the season. This seemed to boost Armstrong's confidence, as he went on a real purple patch, starting with scoring the only goal of the game against Kilmarnock

then turned in a great performance in Celtic's 4-3 comeback victory over Motherwell, with a goal and two assists

and then scored two goals in a 4-1 win over Partick Thistle.

Armstrong's new found ability to score goals became a huge aspect of his game, as he seemed a player transformed from the one who scored only four goals the season before, and he showed this once more with a fantastic long-range strike against Hamilton in dreadful conditions.

He showed his ability to overcome injury issues with another great run of form after suffering a hamstring injury in January, as he returned with goals against Inverness

Rangers (again)

Celtic v Rangers - Ladbrokes Scottish Premiership
Armstrong is mobbed after opening the scoring against Rangers
Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

Dundee and the title winning game at Tynecastle against Hearts, with a typical strike from just outside the penalty box.

That goal against Hearts sums up the type of goal Armstrong scored all season, he is deadly around the penalty box, very reminiscent of the like of Stan Petrov and Kris Commons.

Hearts v Celtic - Ladbrokes Scottish Premiership
Armstrong after scoring the third goal on title day at Tynecastle
Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

Armstrong's knack of pitching in with goals in big games - as we have seen, two against Rangers and one against Hearts in the title winning game - continued all the way to the end of the season, as he scored the scored the second goal against Hearts which guaranteed the unbeaten league season

and of course as recently as Saturday's Scottish Cup Final against Aberdeen, as he scored the equaliser with a fine long range shot just minutes after Aberdeen took the lead.

Celtic v Aberdeen - William Hill Scottish Cup Final
Armstrong celebrates his equaliser in the Scottish Cup Final
Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images

It should also be pointed out that it was Armstrong's pass to Tom Rogic which set Rogic up on his solo run which ended with the goal that clinched the treble.

The 'elephant in the room' of course is that Armstrong still hasn't signed a new contract with Celtic, although Brendan Rodgers seems confident that he will sign on the dotted line and commit his future to Celtic. It would be extremely disappointing if he was to leave Celtic this summer, as he is playing the best football of his career and could be a mainstay in the side for years to come.

But that's a story for the future, and Stuart Armstrong fully deserves the inaugural Jersey Doesn't Shrink Player of the Year award.