In-form Wood up for major award

Tuesday March 28, 2017 Written by Published in League
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On the back of his phenomenal season for Leeds United, Kiwi striker Chris Wood has been nominated for the English Championship Player of the Year award.

 

Wood, 25, has been nominated for the award alongside Newcastle United striker Dwight Gayle and Brighton and Hove Albion winger Anthony Knockaert.

While he joined Leeds from Leicester City in 2015, this season has been a real breakout year for the Kiwi.

Wood has scored 24 of Leeds’ 52 league goals this season to carry the side to fourth on the Championship table. His strong season has seen him garner Premier League interest, with Everton reportedly interested in acquiring the striker’s talents.

However, Wood faces strong competition for the award. Gayle has been in fine form since joining Newcastle from Crystal Palace last year, scoring 21 league goals this season with Newcastle currently on top of the table.

Knockaert, also a former Leicester City man, has helped Brighton and Hove be one of the surprise teams of the season, with his 13 goals and seven assists a factor in the side sitting second on the ladder.

The awards will be presented in London on April 11 (CI time).

With eight games left for their respective teams in the season, Newcastle and Brighton both looked assured of a spot in the playoffs - if they don’t hold their direct promotion spots as the top two teams in the league - on 78 and 77 points respectively.

However, competition is tight for the four playoff places, with just eight points separating fourth-placed Leeds and ninth-placed Preston North End.

Wood is being linked to a £14.6 million ($26 million) move to English Premier League club Everton.

While Wood has been in camp with the New Zealand team for the World Cup qualifiers against Fiji, speculation has been swirling in England that the Leeds United striker could be on the move next season.

The Football Insider website reported Wood was on Everton manager Ronald Koeman’s radar if Leeds failed to win promotion to the Premier League next season.

The Daily Express picked up the story and speculated Everton - ranked seventh in the EPL - might have to pay Leeds £14.6m for Wood, who cost £2.5 million when signed from Leicester City in 2015.

Football Insider said the New Zealand international “has made known his desire to score goals in the Premier League and should [Leeds] fail to secure promotion this season, he will be keen to leave”.

It said Everton would be looking to add new attacking players with a number of their current strikers - including Belgian star Romelu Lukaku - linked with moves away from Merseyside in the off-season.

Former Leeds manager Neil Redfearn said Wood was “more than capable of playing in the Premier League, and hopefully it’s with Leeds”.

Speaking on Radio Yorkshire, Redfearn said Wood was “just in a better place” this term.

“He just seems happier as a player and when you’ve got people that are happy and looking forward to doing what they are doing then you get the best out of players.

 “And Chris Wood is a case in point.”

Wood will captain the All Whites in the return leg against Fiji in Wellington. The New Zealand national side won the first leg 2-0.

            - Stuff.co.nz

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