AFTER seeing Leeds United stutter to their second league loss of the season at Elland Road on Saturday, Lee Sobot looks at a key talking point ahead of tomorrow night’s visit of Fulham – should Chris Wood keep his place up front?
Free from the injury niggles that disrupted his campaign last season, there were hopes that 2016-17 would be Chris Wood’s time to really shine in a United shirt.
But the 24-year-old has endured two very frustrating league games so far this season and Saturday’s clash against Birmingham City was a fixture in which for the six-foot-three striker quite simply nothing went right.
It spoke volumes that his substitution for Kemar Roofe on the hour was greeted by cheers from within Elland Road.
Despite being hit by two separate groin injuries last term, £3m acquisition Wood still managed to net 13 goals last season and the target-man would almost certainly have surpassed 20 had he been injury free. But the striker can be frustrating to watch on occasions like Saturday as the forward is blessed with height in abundance and a powerful frame yet very few balls played into him stuck against the Blues.
There were very few attempts on goal from the New Zealand international and the forward would be honest enough to admit himself that he had an all round bad day at the office.
So will Whites head coach Garry Monk keep the faith and give the striker another go against Fulham? Judging by comments on social media, the majority of Whites fans want to see Wood dropped and the obvious alternative as part of a 4-4-2 formation is to start Marcus Antonsson in partnership with Roofe.
But is Roofe really a natural forward as opposed to a tricky winger? And thereafter there are very few other options for Monk unless the head coach decides to bring a seemingly out of favour Souleymane Doukara back into the fray.
With Lee Erwin out on loan at Oldham Athletic and no other recognised first-team strikers in the squad, the other option is to revert to a 4-5-1 formation with Antonsson leading the line but the Swede looks like the sort of player who will operate best as part of a front two.
Pablo Hernandez obviously has attacking flair but he’s a no 10 or a winger and not an out-and-out striker. Similar comments probably apply to Hadi Sacko who has been used as a winger though you wonder if the 22-year-old might at least be worth a punt up front at some stage.
But the longer term solution here is obvious – United need to buy another striker because even if Wood returns to form, the competition and extra option will undoubtedly improve the Whites squad as a whole. But it seems unlikely that there will be any new additions before the visit of the Cottagers, bar Sunderland midfielder Liam Bridcutt perhaps. The gut feeling is that Wood will keep his place and Elland Road will be praying he can rediscover his best.
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