Burnley boss Sean Dyche hoping striker Chris Wood can add to his 2020 goal haul at former club West Brom

Chris Wood returns to the club where he started his English odyssey on Monday night.
Chris WoodChris Wood
Chris Wood

After a successful trial, he was taken on by the West Brom Academy, where his form led to a step up to the reserves, and, ultimately, the first team.

In April 2009, he came off the bench against Portsmouth at Fratton Park to become just the fifth New Zealander to play in the Premier League.

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However, he would only make three Premier League appearances in total for the Baggies, before a series of loans at Barnsley, Brighton, Birmingham, Bristol City and Millwall led to a move to Leicester City in January 2013.

After helping the Foxes win the Championship title in 2014, ahead of runners-up Burnley, he would only make seven Premier League appearances before joining Leeds United, and then, as Championship top-scorer, a club record £15m switch to Burnley in 2017.

Since then, he has netted 35 goals in 97 appearances in the big league for Burnley.

And in this covid-interrupted calendar year, which also saw him sit out a spell through injury, he has eight Premier League goals, including a sequence of netting in four-successive games, the last three of last term, and first of this.

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When you look at his contemporaries, Arsenal’s prolific Gabon frontman Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang can only boast two more league goals in 2020, as can Chelsea’s £75.8m new boy Kai Havertz - with the Blues and Bayer Leverkusen - Milan’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic, and Radamel Falcao, now of Galatasaray.

Wood’s strike rate seems to go under the radar, but boss Sean Dyche is well aware of his worth: “I think he’s shown over time he can certainly score goals.

“One of the reasons why we signed him originally is I always felt, even on a quiet day, he finds chances or a way of scoring.

“I think there’s a kind of instinct in certain centre forwards to do that.”

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Wood would be the first to recognise the ammunition provided by the likes of Dwight McNeil and Ashley Westwood, but Dyche feels his strikerate is even more impressive at a club like Burnley.

He added: “I do think he’s had a lot of good players around him as well, I don’t think it’s just down to Woody - the players around him and the supply line have been good as well.

“Hopefully he will continue doing what he does.

“But when you’re talking those numbers (35 in 97)...and don’t forget it’s more difficult sometimes for us to make as many chances as other teams...so if you add that in, then actually, that is a very good strike rate.

“There’s a situation where you aren’t getting as many chances as maybe you would with different styles of players at different clubs, but you are taking the chances when they come your way.

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“He’s an effective player, and as the season continues to grow, and he gets more sharpness, I think, hopefully, he’ll carry on scoring as he has done.”

Burnley’s recruitment may have left Dyche a frustrated figure during the transfer window, but one area where he is particularly blessed is in the striking department.

Alongside Wood, Dyche now has the fit-again Ashley Barnes, Jay Rodriguez closing on a return, and Matej Vydra, fresh from his first goal for the Czech Republic since 2016.

He said: “I think we’ve got four good strikers, they can all operate in different ways.

“I generally like to play with two, as every one knows, and we have flexed that, but generally I like two, and we’ve got four good ones.”