Terry, Cole and Lampard give Chelsea strong hand for awards

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The Independent Football

The Premiership leaders, Chelsea, dominate the nominations for the 2006 Professional Footballers' Association Footballer of the Year Award.

The PFA's 33rd annual awards dinner, to be held at the Grosvenor House Hotel in London, will take place on 23 April, with the six nominees in each of the two categories now confirmed. The Chelsea trio of John Terry, Frank Lampard and Joe Cole all make the short-list for the main accolade. Liverpool's Steven Gerrard, the Arsenal captain, Thierry Henry, and Manchester United's Wayne Rooney are also nominated.

The England striker Rooney, still only 20, picked up the 2005 Young Player of the Year award, and features again in that category. Rooney's Old Trafford team-mate Cristiano Ronaldo, 21, also makes the short-list, along with Charlton's Darren Bent.

The West Ham defender Anton Ferdinand, 21, Cesc Fabregas of Arsenal, 18, and Tottenham winger Aaron Lennon, who turns 19 later this week, also feature.

Rio Ferdinand, Rooney's England and Manchester United team-mate, insisted yesterday that Rooney would handle the responsibility of being England's "main man" at this summer's World Cup.

England's hopes of lifting the World Cup trophy are being pinned on his shoulders by many and Ferdinand said he was confident the pressure would not get to Rooney. "He's at the beginning of hopefully what will be a great career. He's someone who has got unbelievable talent, he's clinical in what he does; his final pass, his shooting and his goalscoring and he's a real team player as well," Ferdinand said.

"You've got to put it [the World Cup] on the back burner, though it's difficult because we're all fans ourselves. As players you've got to be professional and put it at the back of your head and concentrate on the season with your club, which is the most important thing at the moment."

2006 PFA Player of the Year contenders: Joe Cole (Chelsea), Steven Gerrard (Liverpool), Thierry Henry (Arsenal), Frank Lampard (Chelsea), Wayne Rooney (Manchester United), John Terry (Chelsea).

2006 PFA Young Player of the Year contenders: Darren Bent (Charlton), Cesc Fabregas (Arsenal), Anton Ferdinand (West Ham), Aaron Lennon (Tottenham), Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United), Wayne Rooney (Manchester United).