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SPL Team of the Week - December 13

GOALKEEPER

JOHN RUDDY (Motherwell): The Fir Park keeper was in excellent form for his club and must have been bitterly frustrated that his efforts couldn't prevent his side slipping to a 3-2 loss. Ruddy repelled Celtic with a string of great blocks, saved Barry Robson's penalty and regularly denied the dangerous Georgios Samaras and Scott McDonald.

DEFENDERS

JAMIE HAMILL (Kilmarnock): The Rugby Park men have been struggling in this year's SPL campaign, but were indebted to Hamill for helping them earn a share of the points with in-form Hibernian on Saturday. Unflashy, but a solid player with an instinctive nose for danger, he kept the visitors at bay and stifled the menace of Derek Riordan.

JOSE GONCALVES (Hearts): Given the problems with injuries and suspensions which have been suffered by Csaba Laszlo's team, their patched-up personnel did well to gain a draw with Dundee United and the redoubtable Goncalves was at the heart of their labours with a tireless shift which helped restrict United's opportunities in front of goal.

DAVID WOTHERSPOON (Hibs): His team weren't at their best in recording a 1-1 draw with lowly Kilmarnock, but would probably have fared even worse without the exertions of their maturing defender. Wotherspoon heroically cleared a Kevin Kyle effort off his own line and generally kept the shackles tightly fixed on his dangerous opponent.

MIDFIELDERS

TOM HATELEY (Motherwell): The son of a former Rangers legend, Hateley was once again impressive in the heat of battle with Celtic, both sparking menace with his sniping runs and orchestrating the goal from Mark Reynolds which gave his men a half-time lead. Next week, he faces Rangers and it will be interesting to see how he responds.

AIDEN McGEADY (Celtic): He is a regular in this column and we have almost run out of superlatives to describe the consistent excellence of the Celtic star, who will surely attract attention from England (and beyond?) when the transfer window opens during the next few weeks. He regained the initiative for the Bhoys with a second-half equaliser and was instrumental in the hard-fought victory over Motherwell.

NACHO NOVO (Rangers): The Spaniard has landed in hot water with the SFA during the past week, but served up an exhilarating display against St Johnstone which showed his capabilities when allowed to roam. Apart from winning the penalty for his side's second goal, he scored the third and generally buzzed with purpose and energy.

JAMES WESOLOWSKI (Hamilton): Most observers tipped Accies for relegation in advance of the SPL season, but they have demonstrated commendable resolve in confounding their critics and Wesolowski was one of the stars of the show, even before scoring the goal which clinched Hamilton's first win at Pittodrie for all of 77 years.

STRIKERS

KRIS BOYD (Rangers): He took 30 seconds to break the deadlock against St Johnstone, added another within half an hour - his 153rd SPL goal, as he closes in on Henrik Larsson's record - and might have scored four or five on another day. Even better, from Walter Smith's perspective, Boyd constantly worked to create things for others.

GEORGIOS SAMARAS (Celtic): The Greek player has discovered a new lease of life at Parkhead and exhibited his class by opening the scoring against Motherwell with a stunning individual goal. He sparked panic on several occasions thereafter and was only thwarted from finding the net again through the brilliance of John Ruddy.

MICKAEL-ANTOINE CURIER (Hamilton): There is still plenty of work to do for Billy Reid's team over what will doubtless be a fraught winter's action, but they have fared significantly better than anticipated in the SPL and their ever-alert French striker was on target again as the catalyst for his club's deserved away victory over Aberdeen. Curier was also involved in the second and oozed determination throughout the match.

BAD WEEK

JIM GANNON (Motherwell): Despite earning merited plaudits for the quality of his young team, Gannon has courted controversy with high-profile criticism of refereeing standards in the SPL, as well as falling out with the media. It is a war he can't win, but perhaps more disappointingly, it's a war he didn't need to fight in the first place.

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