Leeds United: Hard work paying off for striker Doukara

Souleymane Doukara
Souleymane Doukara
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MAN of the moment Souleymane Doukara insists he will have no qualms if starting from the bench against Preston on Sunday if that means getting United another three points.

Doukara proved a revelation in Thursday night’s 3-2 victory at Wolves with the 24-year-old brought on as a 30th-minute substitute and transforming United’s attacking threat as the second striker in a 4-4-2.

Steve Evans subsequently revealed Doukara had looked “electric” in a mid-week practice match, scoring “three or four goals” and surprising a head coach who thought he would “never” play the forward upon witnessing his first four weeks under his tenure. But Doukara insists he was never concerned about his long-term Leeds future and maintains that the fortunes of the Whites are more important than his individual gains. The former Catania striker is pushing hard for a start against Preston tomorrow and would relish that opportunity but three more points for his improving side, he says, are more important.

“I always felt optimistic,” said Doukara. “I worked hard to get back into the team, and helped the team to win. That’s it.

“It’s important for me but I think the most important is the team. We took the three points and everybody is happy, the fans, the gaffer, everybody in the team. That is the most important thing.

“Every player wants to play. To be on the bench was not easy for me. Now, I think I will have more game time. I am ready to help the team and to play every game but everybody has to work hard to take the shirt.”

United are undoubtedly improving week by week under Evans with Thursday’s victory putting the Whites 14th and two points off the top half. Doukara is reluctant to set any fancy targets but knows performances like at Molineux must not prove just a flash in the pan.

The French-Senegalese striker reasoned: “We have to play like we can and we have to play like this every week. The Championship is long. We have 25 games left so we have to stay focused every week.

“Every team works hard in this division, so we have to work hard and stay together to win games. The atmosphere is good. The dressing room is good. We have good players. We are younger and we have a lot of players with experience, like Sol Bamba and Mirco Antenucci. They help us to play well.”

And there was no quibbling the performance offered by Doukara which undoubtedly impressed his head coach.

“I think Doukara is fitter than he was before,” said Evans. “I think he is mentally aware now that he will play for me if he produces the type of performances that we expect.

“For the first four weeks when we came in and I have seen him play I said he was never going to play. But he’s worked so hard to get fit and he is on time as well. We played a practice match on Monday for the lads who have not been playing and I think he scored three or four in it.

“He looked electric, he looked like he looked on Thursday night and that’s why he came on to the bench.”