Incredibly, it’s that time of year again where the voting forms for the end of season awards start dropping into inboxes, with the Scottish Football Writers' Association the first through the gate yesterday.

Mulling over who should be named the manager or player of the year isn’t usually a straightforward task, and the infernal but necessary gap between voting taking place and the award actually being dished out can make (even bigger) fools of us all.

It is especially difficult in a season such as this when nothing has yet been decided in terms of the Premiership, and all manners of outcomes could yet transpire. How do you vote for the manager of the season when two of the three trophies are still up for grabs, for example?

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If Philippe Clement completes a league and cup double, or even a treble, then the Rangers boss should of course be a shoo-in. If he finishes the season with a marked improvement in his side, but just the Viaplay Cup in the trophy cabinet, the picture becomes more complicated.

Brendan Rodgers has been fighting fires all season at Celtic, but if he negotiates the most testing campaign over his two spells in Scotland and comes out with a double, then he has to be at the forefront of the conversation.

What about Steven Naismith, who has overcome a sticky start and solidified Hearts as the clear third force in the country, and still has the Scottish Cup to play for?

Then there is Derek McInnes at Kilmarnock, and Stephen Robinson at St Mirren. If either of those managers back up their impressive top six finishes by qualifying for Europe, they also have to enter consideration.

I’ll be leaving that call as long as I possibly can.

When it comes to the players too, it is rather difficult. The young player award would appear to be a straight shootout between Kilmarnock’s David Watson and Motherwell’s Lennon Miller, but the senior award is an altogether more complex affair.

There have been seasons where the winner has been staring you in the face, but in the absence this term of an outlier - a standout performer like a Henrik Larsson or a Brian Laudrup - there are still many notable contenders.

Jack Butland has been the signing of the season for Rangers, and arguably in the division. His teammate and captain, James Tavernier, has just quietly gone about posting elite striker offensive numbers from his nominal station at right back.

Lawrence Shankland at Hearts has been phenomenal, not only maintaining his outstanding level from last season, but arguably surpassing it as he has proven himself to be the Premiership’s top marksman.

There are a host of other worthy candidates, but if I had to decide today, there is one player who I feel has stood out above them all.

In a season where the other key men at Celtic haven’t had their problems to seek, Matt O’Riley has been the one constant who has stepped up to the mark and produced consistently outstanding displays.

Cameron Carter-Vickers, Reo Hatate and even the hitherto bionic Callum McGregor have had injury issues that have disrupted their campaigns. The way that Kyogo Furuhashi fits into Brendan Rodgers’ system has been the subject of much conjecture, and according to the manager, much of that debate has been based in fiction.

Either way though, what is beyond debate is that the striker certainly hasn’t reached the levels we had become accustomed to in his first two seasons in Scotland.

For much of the campaign then, it has been down to 23-year-old O’Riley to be the main man for Celtic, and he has more than stepped up to the plate. He has 13 goals to his name and 11 assists so far in the league this season, goal contribution numbers that no one else can match, but it is his all-round play that marks him out above his peers.

O’Riley has wonderful technique and plays with an elegance that makes him easy on the eye, but as well as his goal threat at one end, he has a willingness to work the other way and a tenacity that is often overlooked.

Not only have his displays been rewarded with a full international call-up by Denmark, but his performances at the very top level in the Champions League have drawn admiring glances – and even a concrete bid for his services – from Celtic’s group rivals and La Liga giants Atletico Madrid.

READ MORE: Celtic write to SFA with VAR concerns over Rangers penalty

O’Riley admitted himself recently that in the weeks following that offer being rebuffed by Celtic, he suffered a little bit of a dip in form. That wasn’t, he said, because he was upset at being denied the opportunity to leave the club to play at a higher level, but because he then put unnecessary pressure on his own shoulders to live up to his status as a potential target for teams of such heft in European terms.

The fact he is the only player in Scotland currently being coveted by such a level of team though, tells you everything you need to know about his quality.

At Ibrox on Sunday against Rangers he was back to his brilliant best, helping Celtic to control the midfield area – particularly in the first half – with his mix of craft and hard graft, and topping it all off with the most impudent of finishes from the penalty spot that completely belied the extraordinarily pressurised circumstances. 

It was classy, and fittingly, that is the adjective that best describes O’Riley.

In the summer, he will no doubt be rewarded with a move to Atletico Madrid or another stage befitting his talents. He should first though, in my opinion, be rewarded with a trophy as Scotland’s player of the year.