Even after exiting the EFL Cup to Liverpool on Tuesday night, this season is going to plan for Garry Monk and Leeds United. However, if we are to sustain our challenge within the top six of the Championship, we will need to strengthen the squad in the January window.
There are two key areas where the midfield-heavy squad has need: up front and at the back. If we add quality at these two positions, then the sky’s the limit in what Leeds could achieve this season. So this is the first in a two part series: today, I am going to be focusing on who we could add to the Leeds United attack.
Back in August, just before the window closed, I highlighted the front-line as the key area to strengthen, and I think everyone would agree that this is the position we must address. Chris Wood’s performances since the close of window have been wonderful, so much so he won the TIAT Reader’s Choice award for October.
However, injures are rife in the Championship, especially towards the end of a 46-game season and if Wood does succumb to injury, then we lack the depth to keep a top six challenge going until May.
We looked at various options in August: Ashley Fletcher, Hal Robson-Kanu and Peter Crouch were all discussed as potential options. However, circumstances have now changed for both the club and the three players mentioned above. Ashley Fletcher has been a success at West Ham and is unlikely to move, Robson Kanu joined Premier League side West Brom, and the style of play implemented by Garry Monk doesn’t require Peter Crouch’s talents.
So who are the best available strikers to help us stay in the top 6?
Let’s take a look at a few options. This list is by no means exhaustive, so if you have some other ideas, please let us know in the comments below.
The forgotten man at the riverside, Rhodes has been a goal scoring machine within the lower leagues of English football, and was prolific for Blackburn and Middlesbrough in the Championship.
A striker built in the same mould of Chris Wood, Rhodes’ ability in the air and eye for a goal would be just what the Doctor ordered for Garry Monk and the Leeds squad, if not a bit redundant with Wood healthy.
However, rumours are circulating about Steve Bruce looking to bring Rhodes to Aston Villa in January. This might put to bed my hopes of seeing the Scotland international wearing the white shirt, but he’s still an option Monk and Cellino/Radrizzani should explore.
Another centre forward plying his trade at the Riverside but not getting the minutes on the pitch, David Nugent is a journeyman within the football league and scoring goals for fun throughout.
Nugent has won promotion twice from the Championship with two different clubs and played an integral part in both promotions with his ability in front of goal.
Nugent would be a great addition and would be a great player to introduce in the last 30 minutes of a game as you know the chances of him finding the back of the net is relatively high.
However, Nugent is the other side of thirty and with the youth and fast pace tempo currently at Leeds, Nugent might struggle to adapt.
This choice will be a familiar one to Leeds fans.
The Leeds legend has had an indifferent time over the last 12 months. An injury has limited his chances at Preston and, even though he has never really found his goal-scoring ability that he had when he was at Leeds, I would welcome him home with open arms.
With the Leeds fans behind him, Beckford could once again flourish at Elland Road and offers a real alternative to Chris Wood.
But January is still a long ways off and after making his goal scoring return against Newcastle (the goal was eventually ruled an own goal), the 32 year old has again been absent from the Preston line-up due to injury.
'JERMAINE BECKFORD PUTS LEEDS INTO DREAMLAND'— Iconic Commentary (@CommentaryLimbs) July 5, 2016
Beckford for Leeds United vs Bristol Rovers#LUFC #BRFC #leedsunited pic.twitter.com/FShiM5YkdW
Who knows what the next few weeks hold for Beckford, but his return could be a welcome option for Leeds fans.
Okay, so Jermain Defoe is included based only on a rumour which circulated on social media, and I know it was probably just fans dreaming the impossible. However, sometimes the impossible can become the possible, right? No? It’d be fun to see Defoe in White, but this is the least likely option.
So who do you put in our sights for the January Window? Anyone good out there that I missed? Let us know in the comments below. Thanks for reading. MOT