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Sep 21, 2009

SPL Clydesdale Bank Team of the Week

GOALKEEPER
JOHN RUDDY (Motherwell)

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The Fir Park keeper had to stay focused before earning an opportunity to make his mark during his side's 1-0 victory over Dundee United, but produced a string of tremendous saves to defy Darren Dodds and Danny Cadamarteri when Craig Levein's men pressed for an equalising goal in the later stages.

DEFENDER
SASA PAPAC (Rangers)

Amidst the madness and red mist which enveloped Rugby Park, where referee Steve Conroy dished out 11 yellow and two red cards, Papac was calmness personified in gaining the Ibrox club a draw, despite being put under serious pressure by Kilmarnock. One goal-line clearance, in particular, was outstanding.

DEFENDER
IAN MURRAY (Hibernian)

The Easter Road manager, John Hughes, had lost patience with the patchy form of Chris Hogg, so handed a surprise call up, along with the captain's armband, to Murray, who duly provided a master class in solid defending, amidst his team's 3-0 success over St Johnstone. Hibs have erratic this season, but Hughes has plenty of flair in his squad and needs the likes of Murray to back that up.

DEFENDER
GLENN LOOVENS (Celtic)

Granted, his performance wasn't deserving of superlatives for much of the game against Hearts. And yet, when he popped up to score the winner, in the 93rd minute of the 2-1 victory, it not only testified to Loovens and his colleagues' resilience, but propelled Celtic to the summit of the SPL table on a weekend when Rangers stumbled again. On such small margins are championships won and lost and the Dutchman was in the right place at exactly the wrong time for the visitors.

MIDFIELDER
CHARLIE MULGREW (Aberdeen)

The youngster has matured quickly, under the guidance of Mark McGhee, and was instrumental in his side's 1-0 win over St Mirren, producing a stunning free kick to break the deadlock in the 88th minute. It continued both his rich individual vein of form and that of the Dons, who have now gone over 400 minutes without conceding a goal, as they prepare to tackle Rangers next weekend.

MIDFIELDER
ROSS FORBES (Motherwell)

One of a talented string of precocious performers on the Fir Park roster, Forbes was recently the recipient of the SPL's Under-21 Player of the Month award and cemented his reputation with another hard-working display against Dundee United as well as applying the coup de grace with his 66th minute penalty.

MIDFIELDER
SUSO (Hearts)

The Tynecastle men laboured at the beginning of their campaign, but have raised the tempo during recent matches and Suso has been at the centre of that resurgence. Quite apart from his industry, the Spaniard has excellent control and silenced the Parkhead crowd with a tremendous early goal against Celtic, which both lifted the visitors and embarrassed Artur Boruc. He seems to revel on the biggest stages.

MIDFIELDER
AIDEN McGEADY (Celtic)

He will always have his detractors - how can it be otherwise for an Old Firm representative? - but week in, week out, McGeady keeps plugging away, unlocking defences, and exasperating opponents. Other players might have felt their luck was out during Sunday's meeting with Hearts, but McGeady's perseverance eventually created the opening from which Loovens secured victory.

FORWARD
ANTHONY STOKES (Hibernian)

The player, recently acquired from Sunderland, has been at the centre of some negative headlines in the past few days, but remains a dangerous opponent, as he demonstrated in scoring twice against St Johnstone, while exhibiting the pace, guile and instinct, which should serve him well in the SPL.

FORWARD
CONOR SAMMON (Kilmarnock)

The 22 year-old Dubliner tends to be overshadowed by his team mate, Kevin Kyle, but offered an ever-present threat against Rangers in a match where the SPL champions were regularly forced to dig deep to avoid defeat. Sammon's mobility aided his side's cause, but he also tracked back tirelessly, was sound in his defensive chores, and rightly earned praise from his manager, Jim Jefferies.

FORWARD
DEREK RIORDAN (Hibs)

If only the media concentrated on this man's footballing ability, his life would be a lot easier. At any rate, now that he has been joined at Easter Road by Anthony Stokes and Liam Miller, Riordan can try to concentrate on generating feel-good stories and his goal against St Johnstone was typical of his capacity for destruction. He did little else in the match, but there again, few strikers did in the SPL this week.

BAD WEEK
DEREK LYLE (Hamilton)

The former Dundee player sustained a dreadful injury in the first minute of his side's drab 0-0 draw with Falkirk and it was later revealed that he had torn his cruciate ligament and will miss the rest of the season. "I am gutted for the boy, because he has worked so hard to force his way into the team," said the crestfallen Accies manager, Billy Reid. "It is devastating news and my heart goes out to him."

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