Leeds United: Top scorer keeps hit list close to his chest

Leeds United's Souleymane Doukara.
Leeds United's Souleymane Doukara.
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In Italy they talked of Souleymane Doukara as a striker who sometimes found himself short of goals. Seven in 15 appearances in England makes him Leeds United’s top scorer.

The Frenchman is happy with that tally and has a target in mind for the whole of the season but, as with most strikers, that figure is private.

“There’s a number I’m thinking of but I don’t want to say what it is,” Doukara said. “Strikers think about that but we never talk about it because you don’t know how the season will go.

“I’m happy with seven but the season isn’t finished.

“We have a lot of games left and the season is long. Hopefully I’ll score more.”

Doukara’s seventh came at Blackburn Rovers last weekend, the first goal in a Championship fixture which Leeds contrived to lose through a goalkeeping error and a dubious penalty award.

The 23-year-old – a player who United owner Massimo Cellino was so confident about that he converted his loan from Catania a little over a month after signing him in July – has been clinical in flashes, converting what might prove to be the club’s goal of the season in their win over Blackpool on November 8.

His effort at Blackburn was more straightforward, a side-footed finish from an Adryan corner, but he has shown the instinct which managers look for in a forward. United’s head coach, Neil Redfearn, wants to tidy up Doukara’s all-round game but the striker’s ability to poach goals has shone through.

“I can do much better,” Doukara said. “I have to improve all of my game. I can do more for me and more for the team.

“It’s hard and quick in this league. There are some big players in the Championship and they play very well. It’s a big level for me.”

Doukara’s entire professional career before his move to Leeds was played out in Italy. He grew up in France and went through the youth systems of a number of French clubs but Italian lower league side Rovigo gave him his chance in 2008.

In general, United’s team are new to this country and new to the Championship.

The impact of the influx of 15 players during the summer transfer window is shown by a league table in which Leeds are 16th, two points above the bottom three.

United played well at Blackburn but conceded their 1-0 lead when a mix-up between goalkeeper Marco Silvestri and defender Liam Cooper gave Jordan Rhodes a tap-in.

Rhodes then won the match two minutes from time after a Sam Byram’s challenge on Rovers’ Luke Varney earned Gary Bowyer’s side a dubious penalty.

“It was frustrating but if you watch the game and watch all of the game then you’ll see that we played better than them,” Doukara said. “We have to stay positive.

“The team was unlucky on the day but you move on and stay focused on the next game.”

The next game is Derby County at home tomorrow, a meeting with the division’s top club. Derby are three points clear after a tight but valuable win at Watford last weekend.

“They have taken an astonishing 31 points from their last 11 matches against Leeds.

“It’ll be a hard game and a big game,” Doukara said. “But if we play well we can do something in it.

“I think the team are doing well. We are playing well. But we have to win some games to go up the table.”

FRUSTRATION: Leeds United's Pierre-Michel Lasogga after his close-range header was saved against Nottingham Forest. Picture by Bruce Rollinson.

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