Leeds United: Wood can’t wait to get started with Whites

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The high level of interest in Chris Wood’s signature was enough to reassure him that his pedigree in the Championship had not been forgotten.

Leeds United plucked the striker from under Wolverhampton Wanderers’ nose last Wednesday and according to head coach Uwe Rosler, “everybody wanted” the New Zealand international. In spite of that, Wood is still keen to put a quiet year behind him.

Chris Wood

Chris Wood

The 23-year-old helped drive Leicester City into the Premier League in 2014 but he was one of the players whose reward for promotion was nothing more than occasional involvement last season.

Leicester used him nine times before agreeing to loan him to Ipswich Town in February, at a time when City’s fight against relegation was at its height.

In and out of Ipswich’s line-up, Wood’s goal in a 2-2 draw between Leicester and Everton at the start of the campaign proved to be his only strike.

“It was hugely frustrating and I didn’t play as much as I wanted,” he said.

“But that’s football. You have ups and downs and that was a down.

“Hopefully I am coming here (to Leeds) to push on. That’s an up.”

United’s signing of Wood was an opportunistic deal, struck while Wolves were taking their time to negotiate a fee with Leicester.

Leeds’ owner, Massimo Cellino, stepped in with an offer worth up to £3m and gave Wood a decision to make.

Rosler, whose squad will contest their first pre-season friendly at Harrogate Town this Friday, saw Wood as an ideal signing: a proven goalscorer but a striker versatile enough to play in the formations which worked best for the German in his time as manager of Brentford and Wigan Athletic.

“I prefer 4-3-3 or 3-5-2 and I believe Chris can play both systems,” Rosler said.

“He can play alone up front too with his physicality. He has than in abundance.

“We have to learn how to use that. He’s big so we have to play big. Chris also has finishing skills and he’s a link player. We’ll be able to move the ball up as he can hold the ball under pressure. And obviously his goalscoring attributes speak for themselves.”

Rosler is not the only Leeds boss to have taken an interest in Wood. Neil Warnock identified him as a target – a target United could not afford – when Leicester took him from West Brom in 2013 and he was one of the players recommended by Neil Redfearn towards the end of last season.

Wood admitted that he was taken by Rosler’s reputation for attractive football, saying: “I like playing football and that’s why this manager come here – to hopefully play a bit of football. We’ll work well together. I like the ball at my feet but if it needs to come up in the air when the pressure’s on then I can try and hold it up. That’s an element of my game as well.

“I knew the training ground was top-notch and the stadium’s good.

“It was just behind the scenes that I needed to see was right. I can see it’s heading that way and is right.”

The forward will make his first appearance for the club at Wetherby Road on Friday, the first of five friendlies arranged by Rosler.

Fellow signings Lee Erwin, Sol Bamba and Charlie Horton should also be involved. United will follow up their game at Harrogate with a trip to York City before flying out to Austria for a week-long training camp.