Leeds United face Watford FC tonight in a vital promotion clash at the top of the Championship with Kevin Blackwell's side in a striking crisis. Despite having six strikers on his books Blackwell is having to consider a dip into the loan market to provide cover for his injured strike team.
Some may question allowing Michael Ricketts to go out on loan - although a long way from his England form he has scored twice in two games for Burnley since his move, having netted 5 times for Cardiff before Christmas! It's a decent record which compares favourably to those of Blackwell's favoured strikers, especially if you take away penalties from their current goals tally. United's keenness to remove his wages from the books may yet end up compromising their promotion challenge.
The crisis is caused by having only Ian Moore and David Healy fully fit to play. Moore is normally lucky to get on the bench let alone start a game. Healy has just returned from suspension which helps Blackwell but Robbie Blake is carrying a groin strain from last week, Richard Cresswell also has a training ground injury which will need an op but Blackwell is having to consider playing him tonight anyway, and Rob Hulse has a season-long hip problem plus some knocks picked up from Derby County defender Tomasz Hajto's close attentions at the weekend.
The greatest irony is NOT that it is a Watford team led by former Leeds head coach Ade Boothroyd that is threatening our position as challenger for the second automatic promotion place. Nor that the heart of his team is Matthew Spring or Clark Carlisle. It is that we'll be putting out a makeshift strike force of the lame whilst we face the league's top-scorer in Watford's Marlon King - a player Boothroyd knew from his Leeds days as Blackwell took him on loan at the end of last season! To be fair, he made four starts and five sub appearances without a goal for Leeds, whereas he has knocked in 16 goals from 30 starts for Watford.
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