Colchester United striker Sammie Szmodics has been named the Sky Bet League Two Player of the Month for December.
December was a stellar month for the 22-year-old midfielder with five goals and an assist. It is his willingness to surge forward into the penalty area and take on defenders which is particularly impressive, most notably in his charging solo effort against Port Vale.
Colchester Head Coach John McGreal said: “It’s another fantastic accolade for one of our players to pick up this award.
“Sammie follows the likes of Frankie Kent, Brennan Dickenson and Kurtis Guthrie in being nominated and he deserves to be this month’s winner for the performances he put in during December."
"He is truly one of our own, having been with us since he was seven and coming all the way through the Academy.
"I’m really pleased for him, he has overcome the difficulties of the injuries over the past couple of years.
"People don’t know how much work he has put in behind the scenes in the gym, making himself stronger, and now he is reaping the rewards of that hard work.”
Szmodics said: “To win this award - considering the people who I’m up against, people who’ve scored a lot of goals - I’m really happy.
“It’s been hard work [behind December’s good form]. We do the training sessions and then it’s the bits after with the assistant manager Steve Ball, we do a bit of shooting after and it’s just practice, practice, practice.
“I’ve not been doing anything different to before I was scoring, but I’ve come back from injury and hit a purple patch of form and the goals are flying in and long may it continue.
“The fans sing ‘he’s one of our own’ and I’ve come up through the ranks since I was seven and I’ve built that relationship because I work hard for the team, but I also work hard for the club because any player wants to play for their boyhood club and I’ve been lucky enough to do it and the fans realise that and respect it.”
Sky Sports’ EFL pundit Don Goodman said: “It’s no surprise given his age, ability and goalscoring record that Szmodics is attracting admiring glances from suiters at a higher level, or that the Colchester faithful are desperate to hold onto their top-scorer.
“Being a local lad, Sammie will be delighted that his form in December has helped his team and the whole club will be hoping that he sticks around to continue to fire them up the table.”
Sky Bet EFL trader Mikey Mumford said: “Sammie Szmodics had a luckless year on the injury front last season but the U’s youngster has shown great endeavour and dedication to return from a broken leg suffered in March and get back among the Colchester goal trail.
“Szmodics has displayed a maturity beyond his years in firing John McGreal’s side into the promotion reckoning and Sky Bet go 10/3 the U’s make the Play-Offs, while it’s 14/1 they go up via them.
“The 22-year-old will be key if the Essex side are to keep pace with the top seven - he’s 33/1 to finish as the division’s leading scoring by adding to his goal tally so far this term.”
The judging panel for the Sky Bet Player of the Month comprises Sky Sports’ EFL expert Don Goodman; EFL Communications Director Mark Rowan, League Managers’ Association Director Olaf Dixon and Sky Bet EFL trader Mikey Mumford