HEAD coach Steve Evans says Chris Wood can be the prolific striker Leeds United need next season insisting ‘a fully fit Chris Wood will reach 20 goals without a shadow of a doubt.’
The New Zealand international squandered two gilt-edged opportunities in last weekend’s 1-0 loss at Burnley and again failed to net in Tuesday night’s 2-1 success at Birmingham City in which winger Stuart Dallas hit a brace.
Yet Evans insists he has no doubts whatsoever that the 24-year-old is capable of clocking up 20 goals in a season with Evans believing Wood would already be close to that target, but for this term’s injury woes.
Wood has netted nine times this season but endured two separate spells on the sidelines with hamstring problems in first January and then in February and early March but Evans says the six-foot-three striker has worked painstakingly hard on his fitness and is now in the best shape he can possibly be.
If the Kiwi avoids further injuries, United’s head coach is confident that a barrel load of goals will follow.
“He’ll have suffered with the two missed chances at Burnley,” said Evans.
“That’s obviously a big part when you a striker.
“But I thought he led the line fantastically well and I think at Birmingham everyone has then seen first hand how good Chris Wood can be and the job he does for the team.
“I’ve seen the stats and he wins 19 headers at Birmingham, against the likes of the boy Morrison who is particularly strong in the air so it shows you what Chris brought to the team.
“Him in your team and him available for selection changes the mechanics, just as it does for Burnley. If you put Vokes and Gray out of the team they have got a problem.
“If you take the strikers out of that Brighton team they will have a problem.
“If you take the strikers out of the Hull team, the Derby team, the Middlesbrough team – they will have problems.
“We’ve had more games without Chris then we have had with him so there goes a big advantage that we have when he is available.”
Asked if Wood was the man United need to bag 20 goals next season, Evans insisted: “Yes he is, without a shadow.
“And I think he would have been on 15 or 16 already if he’d not been out as long as he had.
“Now, and he takes all the credit for this along with the fitness team downstairs, he’s got himself in incredible shape, as good as it can get really.
“In that shape he will get 20 goals.”