Whispers have been circulating on social media over the past 24 hours suggesting that Leeds striker Chris Wood has not traveled with the United squad to the capital to face fellow high flyers Fulham, as he is reportedly suffering with a calf strain suffered in Fridays away win at Birmingham.
Rumours also suggest that the Kiwi is not the only player missing out, with Luke Ayling also staying in Leeds; however on father duties rather than on the injury bench. Lukes’ wife has reportedly had their first child over the past 48 hours and has understandably chosen to stay with his family. However, it must be noted that these are only rumours at this stage and nothing has been confirmed; but the highly reputable Phil Hay has been tweeting, as he so often does, and has also quoted the rumours on the two regular starters- stating: ‘would stress that this is unconfirmed but suggestion Wood has a calf problem and Ayling’s wife has had their baby.’.
If these reports do turn out to be true, The Whites would have to cope without the league’s top scorer who has bagged 22 goals so far in the league; one more than Newcastle’s £9million man Dwight Gayle. Not only would Chris be a big miss, but Luke Ayling has been an ever present right back for Leeds this season since arriving from Bristol City in the summer for a fee of around £500,000, making him arguably one of the best pieces of business in the Championship this term. Luke has made 34 appearances out of 35 games in the league so far this season and in my opinion he is one of the most consistent players we have at the club. Both players would be a big miss in tonights highly anticipated match which could prove to be a key game in the season as in reality Fulham are the only team outside of the top 6 which stand a fighting chance of breaking into the playoffs.
Fulham themselves are just five points behind sixth placed Sheffield Wednesday, as well as having a game in hand over our Yorkshire rivals, and are comfortably sitting seventh in the league table. They, like like Leeds, consist of a squad of both young and experienced well rated players. Such as striker Sone Aluko, whos is best known for his time at Hull City in both the top flight and the second tier. The Nigerian forward arrived at Fulham on a free transfer after The Tiger chose not to offer him a new contract, and has contributed five goals to The Cottagers this season; six behind their on loan top goal scorer Chris Martin.
The Scot caused a stir a few months back after reportedly wanting to cut short his loan spell and return to parent club Derby County to play under his former boss Steve McClaren, who was newly appointed at the time following Nigel Pearson’s sacking. However along with the experienced, Fulham also have young winger Ryan Sessegnon as their hidden jem. The left sided midfielder has broken into their first team at the beginning of this season aged just 16 after promoting him from their academy. The England under17 international is gradually beginning to make a name for himself in the league and teams such as Manchester City have noticed his talent at such a young age, and are watching him closely and planning a summer swoop.
Leeds fans, especially the 7,000 travelling to Craven Cottage tonight (3,000 in the away end and 4,000 in Fulham’s unique neutral zone), will hope that not only are these rumours false, but hope that United’s sturdy defence can keep out Fulham’s 16 year old Sessegnon and 28 year olds Chris Martin and Sone Aluko.
Time will only tell if Woody is involved tonight, with official team news released at 6;45, but with Chris contributing over 47% of our league goals this season and our second top goalscorer Souleymane Doukara only scoring five goals, many will fear that we could struggle for goals on such an important night.