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Saunders On Strikers


09:00 5th April 2013

Boss on replacing Sylvan

Wolves manager Dean Saunders has backed his remaining senior strikers to deliver the goals to keep the club in the nPower Championship following the devastating news that top scorer Sylvan Ebanks-Blake will miss the final six games of the season through injury.

Ebanks-Blake - who has netted fifteen times so far this campaign - suffered a break to his left fibula in the Easter Monday victory over Birmingham City.

That leaves Saunders with Kevin Doyle, Bjorn Sigurdarson and Jake Cassidy as his forward options , along with loan signing Nouha Dicko and youngster Liam McAlinden, who has now been called into the first team squad.

"It's a big blow," Saunders admitted. "We've suffered three broken bones - freak injuries really - in the last few matches, but there's nothing we can do about it now, we've just got to roll our sleeves up and get on with it.

"It gives other players an opportunity though - they'll all be thinking to themselves that I might pick them and I've told them all to be ready for the final six games.

"I've called Liam McAlinden up to the first team squad, so we'll have him, Jake, Bjorn, Kevin and Dicko, who I consider to be more of a wide player than a forward."

In his press conference ahead of tomorrow's trip to Bolton, Saunders revealed that his squad was further depleted in training on Thursday as Sigurdarson was unable to take part in the session due to illness.

However, the manager is hopeful that the Icelandic international - who has impressed playing as a right-sided midfielder in recent weeks - will be fit to play some part in the game at the Reebok Stadium.

"Bjorn felt a bit rough on Thursday morning so we sent him home with some antibiotics," Saunders explained. "I'm hoping he'll be alright, but it's obviously a concern as we've got to keep everyone fit.

"He's a good athlete - he covers the ground and he's prepared to work. He's done a good job for us on that right hand side, and his aerial ability gets us in the game as well."

Another man who has excelled in recent games is Kevin Doyle, who has been handed the captain's armband in the absence of Karl Henry.

The Irishman - after going over three months without a goal - has scored the winner in each of the last two home games and won the first-half penalty which Ebanks-Blake converted to put Wolves 3-0 up against Birmingham on Monday.

Of his return to form, Saunders says: "I'm pleased Kevin's playing well - he's playing like Kevin Doyle again. He's scored twice and he's then shown a bit of sharpness and pace to win us the penalty at St Andrews.

"I'd like to think that making him captain has helped, but you can't keep a good player down for long. He's been down for a while but now he's dragged himself out of it.

"He got a goal and now he looks a yard sharper - he looks a yard sharper. He's playing well now."

Despite the Ebanks-Blake injury blow, there was more positive news on midfielders David Davis and Jamie O'Hara - both of whom suffered knocks at St Andrews but returned to training on Thursday.

"Davis was saying that he wanted to come off because he was in so much pain on Monday, but he's done some light training and it's not as bad as we first feared," the manager said of the young midfielder who had a hand in all three goals at Birmingham.

"I though he played really well. He's a good athlete, he plays in bursts and we've still got to get him fitter and stronger, but he was involved at all three goals at Blues and he has a winning mentality."

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