Seven unsung Premier League heroes - Henderson, Bamford, Soucek and more

The race to be named the 2021 PFA Player of the Year is wide open. Does one of the Premier League's less well-known stars have an outside chance of claiming the award?

The 2020/21 Premier League campaign has been strange and confusing. The unexpected is ruling the roost.

Unsurprisingly the race for the PFA Player of the Season award has never been more open. The usual Premier League big stars are now jostling for position with some of soccer's less glamorous names in the betting market.

Planet Sport has already mapped out the leading contenders for the award, but what about the players lurking on the fringes? High-performing players that you hadn't realised might be worth an outside punt.

Jordan Henderson

Liverpool have had a devastating number of injuries this season, which many see as the reason they are off the pace in their attempt to retain the Premier League title.

With Virgil van Dijk, Joel Matip and Joe Gomez injured for most of the season, Liverpool's captain has stepped in and performed like a true leader.

Playing out of position in defence, Henderson has won the hearts of the red side of Merseyside. Since Van Dijk's injury Henderson has kept four clean sheets, as well as scoring and assisting one.

Henderson's move to Liverpool's back-line has exposed how important he is to the midfield. Liverpool fans can't wait to have him back where he belongs.

His passion, grit and drive has been the heart of the Liverpool team, and although the Englishman has not been in his favoured position, he has performed admirably.

However, the Liverpool captain picked up an injury in the Merseyside derby, and has successfully gone under surgey. There is no specefic date Liverpool think Henderson will be back, but the club believe he could be out until after the March international break.

PFA Player of the Year odds - 250/1 (Bet365)

Thomas Soucek

The 25-year-old midfielder has been one of West Ham United's crucial linchpins this season, both in front of goal and in the middle of the park.

As West Ham's current top goal-scorer, Soucek has hardly received the recognition he deserves. The Czech's box-to-box playing style, strength, range of passing and goal scoring ability proves how much of a complete midfielder he is.

Tomas Soucek leads comeback at Crystal Palace as West Ham reach top four
Tomas Soucek leads comeback at Crystal Palace as West Ham reach top four

Signing from Slavia Prague for £14.5million, West Ham have unearthed a gem that could be the difference in their bid for European football next season.

England better watch out at the European Championships.

PFA Player of the Year odds - 150/1 (Bet365)

James Ward-Prowse

Southampton have delivered some big results and performances this season. Their main man in the midfield, Ward-Prowse, has been the driving force behind Southampton's early season form.

The Englishman has had one of his best seasons on the south-coast, scoring and assisting five times this campaign.

James Ward-Prowse celebrates against Newcastle
James Ward-Prowse celebrates against Newcastle

His dribbling, passing and dead ball qualities have marked him out from the rest in this Southampton side.

He scored the only goal in a win over Liverpool, as well as scoring twice and assisting once in a 4-3 win over Aston Villa.

Although his side have dropped into the bottom half since Christmas, he has still been hugely underestimated.

PFA Player of the Year odd - 200/1 (BetWay)

Dominic Calvert-Lewin

Dominic Calvert-Lewin has been crucial to Carlo Ancelotti's Everton side. Partnered with Richarlison and James Rodriguez, he's had a stand out season.

The English striker was on top form at the start of the 2020/21 campaign, scoring 11 goals in 11 matches, as Everton sat at the top of the table for a number of weeks.

Dominic Calvert-Lewin levelled late on
Dominic Calvert-Lewin levelled late on

Although the Toffees haven't lived up to their promising start, Calvert-Lewin has remained as one of the league's top performers.

With the chance of European soccer next season, this will be a season to remember for Everton, as well as Calvert-Lewin.

PFA Player of the Year odds - 100/1 (Bet365)

Richarlison

As well as Dominic Calvert-Lewin, the Brazilian has performed fantastically for the Toffees.

Although he doesn't have as many goal contributions as his fellow striker, he has been crucial when winning important games.

He has scored five goals and assisted three times this campaign. Most importantly he scored in the Merseyside derby, to help his side secure a 2-0 victory at Anfield for the first time since 1999.

The forward has adapted to Ancelotti's plans and has played in a range of positions, either within the midfield, out wide or upfront.

Richarlison has a great chance to help his side achieve European soccer for the first time since 2017, and continue their promising displays seen at the start of the season.

PFA Player of the Year odds - 150/1 (William Hill)

Patrick Bamford

In a promoted Leeds United side, Patrick Bamford has proven himself to be a quality Premier League striker.

With pre-season debates raging whether the Englishman would be able to perform in the top division, Bamford has proven his doubters wrong with a fantastic return for Leeds.

Patrick Bamford has scored 13 goals in 26 Premier League appearances this season
Patrick Bamford has scored 13 goals in 26 Premier League appearances this season

The striker is currently sitting in fourth place for top goal scorers this season. Scoring 13 goals in the campaign so far and helping his side on a promising return to the top flight.

With Leeds sitting just below the top half and likely to be safe from the drop, Bamford's contribution has been crucial to keeping Leeds in the Premier League.

PFA Player of the Year odds - 200/1 (SkyBet)

James Maddison

Leicester City's attacking midfielder has been a key element to their Champions League qualification pursuit.

Maddison has been fantastic in front of goal, as well as being the main supply line for Jamie Vardy. Maddison has scored eight goals, as well as assisting seven times for Brendan Rodgers' side this season.

Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers praises ‘top performer’ James Maddison
Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers praises ‘top performer’ James Maddison

His dribbling ability, finishing and passing have played a huge part in helping Leicester secure results and cement their place in the top four.

However, Maddison is the next man on Leicester City's long list of injuries. The Englishman picked up a continued hip injury against Aston Villa, missing his sides 2-1 loss against Arsenal.

Leicester believe that it is not a long term issue and that the midfielder should return to the first team in a matter of weeks.

PFA Player of the Year odds - 100/1 (Bet365)

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