7:00am Thursday 30th January 2014
By Marc Iles
AS one goal-shy striker heads off into the Swansea sunset, another front man in the midst of a barren run arrives at the Reebok with little time to make himself at home.
David Ngog effectively left the door open on his way out of Wanderers for Middlesbrough’s Lukas Jutkiewicz, the burly 24-year-old who made his debut from the bench in Tuesday’s 2-1 defeat at QPR.
News of his signing was greeted with caution by the Whites faithful, many of whom could not look past his rather meagre record of two goals from 24 appearances at the Riverside, only 13 of which have been starts.
Jutkiewicz’s goals came within a few days of each other in August, but the short stint at Loftus Road represented a 22nd game in an injury-hampered run.
At 6ft 3ins and powerfully built, Dougie Freedman’s plans for the Southampton-born forward probably stretch beyond mere goal-getting.
In the manager’s preferred one-up-front system Jutkiewicz could be a platform off which the likes of Mark Davies, Chris Eagles and Chung-Yong Lee and Co can play.
He could even be the target man in a front two – allowing Jermaine Beckford, for example, to use his pace and get behind the opponents’ defence.
The only problem is that no-one – save for the under-used Andre Moritz – has been a particularly reliable source of goals of late, making Jutkiewicz’s task of making himself comfortable all the more difficult.
Jutkiewicz achieved double figures in the Championship for both Coventry and Boro in the last two seasons, so it is not unreasonable to expect he can get firing again.
He may also give Wanderers an aerial threat at set pieces, something they have chronically lacked in recent times.
“Lukas is a proven striker at this level,” reasoned Freedman after watching him come through a decent 23-minute cameo off the bench on Tuesday night.
“It was pleasing to get him in, and I think the more game time he gets, the better he’ll get.
“He showed some of his qualities coming on in the last quarter of the game, he helped us get forward a bit better and had a bit of bad luck with a header.”
Heading into an encounter with Mick McCarthy’s Ipswich Town, Wanderers are going to need all the muscle they can muster, which suggests Jutkiewicz could be in line for more than a sub’s role on Saturday.
But whether he is joined up front by Craig Davies, who featured from the start in the last two games, seems unlikely.
Jermaine Beckford is another slim possibility, with Wanderers hoping his return to light training is a sign his hamstring problem has cleared.
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