At first glance there may not appear to be an outstanding candidate for Albion's Player of the Season.

There is.

The annual awards night has been moved back to the night after the home game against Newcastle at the end of the month, because of the hectic schedule.

That feels appropriate now, since Shane Duffy made his debut for Albion against Newcastle.

Defeat in the north-east two-and-a-half-years ago was followed by another at home to Brentford.

The Seagulls were 13th in the Championship. Their new central defender had arrived from Blackburn carrying a flurry of red cards and own goals.

Supporters were questioning the wisdom of signing Duffy. Not any more.

The Argus: His partnership with Lewis Dunk (above) at the heart of the back four has been instrumental in Albion gaining promotion, staying up in their first season in the Premier League and probably surviving again.

The pursuit of safety should be clarified by the time the prizes are handing out, with five games squeezed into a fortnight.

There is no need to wait to appreciate that Duffy should be a clear favourite for the top award.

The initial criteria has to be the number of matches played.

Take two of the signings of last summer, for example.

Bernardo and Yves Bissouma have both caught the eye.

It would not be a surprise if Albion are fending off interest in Bernardo (below) in particular. The young Brazilian has all the attributes of a modern day full-back.

The Argus: They cannot be considered as they have only started 13 games apiece.

The impact of any player in these circumstances would have to be season-changing to warrant more than an honourable mention.

So the field narrows. Davy Propper and Dale Stephens have been consistent contributors in midfield and Glenn Murray deserves a podium finish.

Without his goals Albion really would be in trouble.

Solly March is growing out wide. It has been his best season to date, but the majority of the strongest contenders emphasise where Albion's strength currently lies - in defence.

Although his clean sheet count has fallen and he was away at the turn of the year on Asian Cup duty with Australia, Mathew Ryan has been dependable again in goal.

Martin Montoya (below centre), another of the summer signings, has blossomed as the right-back successor to Bruno, but Duffy and Dunk stand out.

The Argus: There have been inevitable blips and brief dips in form for both when, game after game, you have a lot of defending to do against some of the best strikers in the world.

Dunk has taken over the captaincy with quiet assurance when Bruno has not been in the team, leading more by the example of his feet and head than the volume of his voice.

The home-grown stopper earned his first England cap against the US at Wembley in November.

Harry Maguire and James Tarkowski were injured then. Dunk missed out on Gareth Southgate's latest squad but remains in his thinking. He would be a worthy runner-up to Duffy.

The Republic of Ireland international gets the nod for me because not only is he good at stopping goals with his aerial presence and determined blocking, he has also scored some valuable ones as well.

Duffy is a clear second in the chart behind Murray with five. Four of his goals have been in games Albion either won by the narrowest margin or drew and have therefore played a crucial part in the points tally.

Duffy and Dunk symbolise Albion's success since they became colleagues. They deserved to take centre stage at the Amex at the end of the month with gold and silver.