Republic of Ireland international striker Kevin Doyle has been short-listed for the PFA Young Player of the Year award, which will be presented following a gala dinner in London on Sunday night.

Doyle, 23, has been nominated along with Tottenham winger Aaron Lennon, 19, and 18-year-old defender Micah Richards, of Manchester City. Also in the running are Arsenal's Cesc Fabregas and Christiano Ronaldo, both of whom also been named in the senior player nominees.

The striker has been a key part of Reading's fine Premiership form this season, scoring 10 goals before Christmas before being laid low with a hamstring injury.

PFA Chief Executive Gordan Taylor paid tribute to Doyle's progress in the Premiership and said: 'There is nothing better than a footballing fairytale - and Kevin's rise to stardom is a classic case in point.

'His story is one which should serve as great encouragement, and a great example to other yougsters with similar ambitions who want to follow their dreams.'

Elsewhere, Ronaldo has shown this season he is the 'the most exciting player in the country, according to PFA chief Taylor.

The 22-year-old winger is among three Manchester United players to have made the shortlist for the PFA Players' Player of the Year award.

It has been a remarkable season for the Portugal international, who had been linked with a world-record move to Real Madrid or Barcelona but last week agreed a new, five-year contract at United.

Ronaldo took his goals tally to 21 following a strike in the FA Cup semi-final win over Watford and last week's double in the Champions League rout of AS Roma at Old Trafford.

Taylor said: 'Cristiano is the most exciting player in the country at the moment - the quickness of his feet and the skills he possesses make you think, at times, that he is from another planet.

'He is much more of a team player now and, as is the test of all great forwards, he knows how to find the back of the net - as he has done on so many occasions this season.'

Chelsea striker Didier Drogba is also on the six-man shortlist.

The Ivory Coast international, 29, has netted 30 goals to keep the Blues on the heels of United in the Barclays Premiership and also on track for FA Cup and Champions League glory to add to their Carling Cup final triumph.

Taylor said: 'What I have liked about Didier this season is the way he has committed himself to the Chelsea cause and how he has maintained such excellent form, even when Chelsea have been going through a sticky time.

'Didier has, arguably, been Chelsea's best and most consistent performer this season - no mean achievement when he is playing alongside so many top-class players at Stamford Bridge.'

Like Ronaldo, Arsenal midfielder Cesc Fabregas, 19, has also been nominated in the PFA's Young Player of the Year category. The Spaniard has once again been a consistent performer in what has been an indifferent season for the Gunners.

Taylor said: 'He has been a marvellous player for Arsenal who, when they are in full flow, are wonderful to watch - with Fabregas usually at the heart of every move.

'He is the one who makes them tick and, to see him so composed in the midfield action area, you would think that there is a much older head on those young shoulders because he has such remarkable vision and perception of what is going on around him.

'He is going to be a player for all seasons if he keeps going the way he is.'

Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard, winner in 2006, is shortlisted once again.

Taylor said of the England midfielder, 26: 'This is a true sign that Steven has carried on from where he left off last season. He continues to lead by example, either as captain of Liverpool or midfield dynamo for England.'

United winger Ryan Giggs and his team-mate Paul Scholes complete the six-man nominees.

Taylor said: 'The sight of Ryan flying down the wing is, to this day, one to behold and we still remember the wonder goal he scored against Arsenal in the FA Cup a few years ago.

'Even now, at the age of 33, he glides across the pitch, almost effortlessly, and it has been a privilege to watch him in action over such a long period of time.'

On Scholes, 32, Taylor added: 'Paul has been a mainstay of the United side and his remarkable consistency is one of the main reasons why United have been leading the way for the majority of the campaign.'

Manchester United and England forward Wayne Rooney, 21, will be looking for a hat-trick of Young Player awards, having won the accolade in both 2005 and 2006.

Taylor said: 'Wayne is not a selfish player, very much a team player and he has shown, especially when asked to play up front on his own for England, that he can adapt to different roles.

'He is willing to have a go in whatever position he is asked to play, and will come through. In the fullness of time I am convinced that Wayne will be an all-time great.'