Leeds United: Hot-shot Wood shortlisted for player-of-the-month award

Chris Wood strikes against Barnsley at Oakwell.
Chris Wood strikes against Barnsley at Oakwell.
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Leeds United top scorer Chris Wood is in the running for the Championship’s player-of-the-month award for January after reaching 20 goals for the season.

The New Zealand international, who received the Professional Footballers’ Association’s January prize yesterday, is on the shortlist for the EFL’s trophy on the strength of six strikes in four appearances last month.

Wood hit the 20 mark with braces against Rotherham United and Barnsley and single finishes at home to Derby County and Nottingham Forest. His second-half effort in a 2-0 win over Forest took him to 20 goals and Wood added another to his impressive tally in Sunday’s derby defeat to Huddersfield Town.

His finishing has driven Leeds into the Championship’s play-off zone and established Wood as the division’s second-highest scorer, behind Newcastle United’s Dwight Gayle.

Speaking after his 20th goal of the season, head coach Garry Monk praised the forward – a £3m signing from Leicester City in 2015 – for recovering from a fraught start to the term which saw him jeered off the pitch by the Elland Road crowd during the club’s first home game.

Monk said: “Strikers love goals and to score 20 at this point is a fantastic achievement personally but you know I’m not interested in who scores the goals. Woody knows that himself. His job is to remain focused and to want more. He’s that type and he knows what I expect from him.

“I can’t play it down. Strikers thrive on goals, it gives them confidence, but Chris is a team player. You can see it. He doesn’t just do goals. He commits with and without the ball. He’s committed to how we play and he’s a leader in the group. We’re all very happy for him.”

Brighton goalkeeper David Stockdale, whose performances kept Albion in control of an automatic promotion place and included two penalty saves, is also nominated alongside Ipswich Town’s Tom Lawrence and Cardiff City’s Joe Ralls.

Lawrence – linked with a move to Leeds last month – produced four goals and an assist in January while Ralls, who comes to Elland Road with Cardiff this weekend, helped City bank four wins from six league games.

The winner of the award will be announced by the EFL tomorrow.