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Following in the Footsteps of Richards and Aylott
Wes Thomas signed on loan from Bournemouth on January 31 for the remainder of the season. Since signing he has made two starts and three sub appearances but has failed to find the net in just over three hours of football, and he has come in from some stick from various quarters – including, it has to be said, this blog.
I will readily admit to being absolutely unimpressed with Thomas so far. Of his five appearances, I’ve seen four of them (including both starts) and I have to confess that I have seen nothing so far that has made me think he will be a success at Blues. Whilst I accept at the level Blues are currently at players are going to be limited I would also say that normally players have one stand-out feature that makes them worthwhile – Zigic isn’t very mobile but he has a deft touch and is a presence up front; Lovenkrands can play on the left and is probably the quickest of our four strikers and King is forever offside but it’s because he plays on the shoulder of the last man and when he gets it right he’s clinical. Thomas doesn’t have a standout quality – he’s not quick, he doesn’t seem versatile and his finishing has been anything but clinical.
I do try to be balanced – I’ve only seen Thomas play for around 190 minutes so it’s very possible I’ve just seen his worst games – after all, he did get three in nine league games at Blackpool which is a respectable enough strike rate at this level. With this in mind I had a look at what Blackpool fans said about him, and also fans at his parent club Bournemouth. Alas, it doesn’t make for good reading.
Blackpool were linked with re-signing Thomas when Blues got him and it didn’t seem to impress the Blackpool fans that much. Bournemouth fans were even more scathing, with many glad to see the back of the striker. The criticisms I see of him are similar to the ones I’ve had – he’s missed too many easy chances that he really should have scored and because of that he just doesn’t look like scoring.
I don’t want to turn this piece into a character assassination of the player – I’m sure he’s a nice lad and that he trains hard but for my money he’s got to be dropped from the squad. With Akwasi Asante back in training we have an opportunity to blood him in the squad – if only because he’s our player rather than a loanee and because we may be needing him next year in the first team. Likewise, Reece Hales and Koby Arthur are both highly rated and I think right now I’d rather see them given a chance.
I’m not sure if it’s a confidence issue with Thomas – I think that maybe he’d benefit from a couple of games with the development squad to get him 90 minutes of action rather than a few minutes off the bench and maybe get him putting the ball in the back of the net. As we have him until the end of the season, coupled with the unfortunate fact that neither Nikola Zigic nor Peter Lovenkrands have the best record with injuries the club needs to do their best to get him fully up to speed in case we are reliant on Thomas and for me the best way to do that is to give him some confidence-boosting run outs with the younger lads.
As I’ve alluded to in the past, Blues haven’t had much luck with ex-Bournemouth strikers. For our sake and for Thomas’ career I hope he can improve on Trevor Aylott (0 in 27) and Carl Richards (2 in 19) because with King out for the remainder of the season we need goals from somewhere. I sincerely hope he proves me wrong.
Tags: Wes Thomas