WITH Ivan Klasnic out injured, Owen Coyle is challenging Johan Elmander to step up to the plate this weekend against Fulham.

The Sweden international is likely to get the nod to partner Kevin Davies up front at the Reebok, following the news that Croatian Klasnic will be missing for up to three more weeks with a calf injury.

Elmander has yet to start a game under Coyle, but the manager insists he has been pleased with the 28-year-old’s application behind the scenes.

And while impressing is training is one thing – the Scot now wants his striker to show just why Wanderers invested a club record £8.2million for him 18 months ago.

“Johan has been a top player and there is no reason why he can’t be again,” Coyle said. “I have been delighted by how he has gone about his work. He is a lovely lad and keen to do well.

“And he earned the reputation he came with so there is no reason why he can’t go on and show all those abilities again. It’s up to him when he crosses that white line.

“You can show your stuff day in, day out and I believe more often than not you will replicate it in games.

“But ultimately, you will be judged on what you do on that pitch when you wear the Wanderers shirt in those competitive games.”

Riga remains Coyle’s only other realistic strike option, but that hasn’t tempted the 43-year-old to consider registering himself as a player, as he did in his time with Burnley.

The Glaswegian turned out for the Reserves at Turf Moor earlier this season, and is well known to regular viewers of YouTube for a scoring a cheeky chip for the Clarets against Accrington Stanley last April – which has attracted over 45,000 hits.

But Coyle insists his work is to be done in the dugout for now – at least until pre-season, when he admits the lure of pulling on the white shirt again might be too hard to resist.

“I’m not registered,” he said. “I played against Liverpool earlier this season and we lost 1-0, but the reason I played was purely and simply to help the younger players we had at Burnley.

“Those days are long gone. I’m probably resigned to the Masters now.

“If someone takes a little knock in training, I’m quite happy to join in but not to any decent level.

“But I still retain that enthusiasm for the game and hopefully that rubs off on other people.”