Without doubt, this has been a season of exceeding expectations.

Back in August, no-one other than the most wildly optimistic seriously entertained the prospect of Saints being title contenders at the business end of the season.

Personally, I thought a mid-table finish with an outside shot at the play-offs was a realistic goal to aim for in our first season back in the second tier.

Yet, here we are, having scored the highest number of goals and have played some superb football along the way.

This week, the Daily Echo launched the annual player of the season award and to be honest, I think most fans will find it hard to look beyond one man in particular.

It's seems odd to think now that there was ever any question that a striker who has topped the charts all season long may not be up to life in the Championship.

If anything, the Championship is not good enough for him.

Rickie Lambert had already carved a space for himself in Saints' folklore but now he looks set for even greater things.

I have to admit I do enjoy it when I read that Southampton are a one man team, and all we do is whack it up to Lambert to head home - such an opinion usually means you can discredit anything that individual spouting it has to say about football.

But Lambert is without doubt vital to how Adkins has set the team up. If he's not scoring, he's assisting. If he's not assisting, he's pulling defenders all over the place and creating space for team mates.

In 2009, Pardew bought a target man. In reality he got an awful lot more.

Don't forget, Huddersfield wanted Lambert - but they decided £1m was too much for a striker in his late 20s. How they must regret that decision. Rickie Lambert must be the best £1m ever spent by a Southampton manager.

But as I say, Saints are not a one man team - although I'd put my house on Lambert winning the Player of the Season Award.

There are others whose contribution has been vital to the success of the team this term.

For my money the best player after Lambert this season is Danny Fox.

I didn't consider him any better than Dan Harding when he first came in, I must admit. However his crosses have a tendency to cause havoc in opposition boxes. He's an attacking fullback in the best possible sense and his partnership with Lallana is superb.

My third choice is a bit more difficult. Jack Cork and Morgan Schneiderlin and Adam Lallana have been impressive throughout and Dean Hammond has adapted well to the style Saints have adopted, whilst still being able to add a bit more blood and guts to the operation.

Dan's Top Three

• Rickie Lambert
• Danny Fox
• Jos Hooiveld

However, it comes down to a coin toss between Richard Chaplow and Jos Hooiveld. Starting with the midfielder first, I don't think it's any coincidence Saints' mid-season slump came when he was out injured.

Bearing in mind he's not a winger, his running on the right of midfield has often created opportunities for Saints. Not enough midfielders run ahead of the front two, but Chappers is not afraid of it. It causes panic as the centre halves try and decide to go with Lambert or take on the maurading midfielder. Not afraid to get forward but more than happy to do the dirty work means Chaplow's contribution has been vital and I fail to see how as the season has gone on he has not started more games than he has.

Hooiveld, despite only coming in mid-season has exceeded expectations. He looks assured under pressure and has chipped in far more than he would be expected to do when it comes to getting on the scoresheet.

At first I thought he was a stop gap, but now I'd go as far to say he's the first defender on the teamsheet - ahead of Jose Fonte. It's for that reason, I'm going to opt for him ahead of Chaplow.

Now, I doubt Lambert, Fox or Hooiveld will add “Dan Kerins thought I was good in 2012” on to their CVs but I hope it makes people think about what roles certain players have within the team and which have the biggest impact. Some are obvious, some less so (I still think Matt Oakley is one of the best players I've seen play for Saints - many, many people disagree).

Feel free tell me how little I know in the comments but more importantly add the reasons behind why you think your suggested player should get the gong.

Of course, if that player is Lambert, you should have a fairly easy ride!

• To vote for your player of the season, pick up a copy of the Daily Echo any day this week.