LUCAS Akins has picked up two player of the month nominations for March - but is focusing solely on Burton Albion finishing the 2018/19 season on a high.
The popular forward netted five times and recorded two assists in the month of March - moving himself onto 11 goals of the season, one shy of his best season tally for the Brewers (12 in 2015/16).
That has led to separate nominations from Sky Bet for League One Player of the Month for March, and for the fan-voted PFA Player of the Month award.
And while the 30-year-old is proud to have been nominated, he is quick to thank his teammates, the staff at the club and the supporters for their efforts in our current run.
“From a personal point of view, I’m definitely proud - the team has performed really well in March and we’ve picked up some good results,” Akins told burtonalbionfc.co.uk.
“We’ve not only cemented our place, hopefully, in this league, but we’ve given ourselves an outside chance of potentially affecting the play-offs.
“The recognition, whether it be me or another teammate next month, is always about the team. The confidence from each player has resulted in me performing and managing to get a few goals, but I couldn’t have done it without the lads.
“It’s a great team to be a part of.
“It’s been an amazing journey and one I’ve shared with the fans. They’ve made it extra special for me and I’ve made no secret of that.
“That goes for the manager as well. I’ve definitely had the best period of my career under him, so I’m grateful to Nigel Clough and his staff, and all the players I’ve played with.”
In last night’s 1-1 draw against Sunderland, Akins made his 200th EFL appearance for the club, the first man to do that for Burton Albion.
In that time, since Akins joined the club in 2014, the Brewers have won two promotions, competed in the Championship for two seasons and made the semi-finals of the Carabao Cup this term.
“The underdog story is rare these days,” said Akins.
“Burton Albion in the Championship? That only happens in FIFA and on Football Manager - not in real life. For us to achieve those great things is something we’ll look back on and ask ‘did that really happen?’
“I relish every game and I’m hungry to play more - I’ll always try to be available for selection.
“It’s great to have the opportunity to stay at a club for so long (to make 200 appearances). In the current climate not many people get that.
“I’m glad I’ve managed to reach some career highlights at Burton - it’s the most successful period I’ve had in my career and in my life as well.
“These things go hand-in-hand - if you’re happy off the pitch, you’re happy on it.”
And going forward, Akins wants the Brewers to finish the season as strongly as possible, and build on the recent wins over Blackpool, Accrington and Barnsley, as well as the draw at Sunderland, in the final five matches of the campaign.
“The fact that we came off the pitch at Sunderland and we were bitterly disappointed that we didn’t make it four wins on the bounce is testament to where we’ve come from,” Akins added.
“We felt we could have got another win and that’s not disrespectful to Sunderland, as they had their chances.
“We want to finish as well as we can. Scunthorpe (on Saturday) will be as tough as anything as they’re fighting for their lives.
“We’ve got to be able to adapt and scrap if we want to win anything and that will be key going forward.”