CRUSADERS star Gavin Whyte has been named the Bet McLean Player of the Month for December.

Whyte is the first player to win the NIFWA award back to back since Coleraine striker Rory Patterson lifted both January and February trophies in 2010.

Gavin said, "It's an incredible honour to win this award two times in a row. I'd like to thank the Football Writers' for picking me, once again.

"I've just kept my head down and did everything I could to help my team. It's nice to score goals and win awards, but the main thing is that we are consistently winning games." In December, Whyte helped the Crues to five wins registering goals against Glenavon, Linfield, Cliftonville and Ballymena United.

Paul McLean of Bet McLean said, "There is a lot of exciting young players in the Irish League at the moment and Gavin is right up there with the best of them."

It's the fifth time Whyte has won the monthly award, drawing him level with Glentoran hero Gary Blackledge and Linfield legend Martin McGaughey. He is just two awards behind Glenn Ferguson and Gary Hamilton, who share the record with seven wins each.

NIFWA Chairman Keith Bailie said,"Gavin is in good company as a five-time winner of this award. His name does not look out of place alongside the likes McGaughey and Ferguson."

Glenavon midfielder Sammy Clingan was second in the monthly award, with Cliftonville defender Garry Breen awarded third spot.

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