The Youth Dilemma
3 of the 7 strikers are under-21 with bags of potential, and with Dembele and Woodrow just finding their feet in the First Team, it would be a huge gamble to let the two youngsters go. Dembele scored his first two goals in the bitter 5-2 defeat to Derby in the Capital One Cup, while Woodrow has also been on the score sheet twice this season. Yet while these two look to bag a few more by May, there is one player who may have felt isolated so far. Adam Taggart picked up a problem early in the pre-season and while it wasn’t considered too serious, both he and the club decided minor decided surgery was the best option. Since then he has played 0 minutes of First Team football, but has shown signs in training of progression.
"I'm unbelievably happy to be honest," he told the official website. "It's been the longest time off the field I've had in my career so far, so it was fantastic to get on the pitch and get back to training every day. Now it's just about pushing forward and getting the sharpness back to really push for some more game time. I've been training hard every day but games are obviously very different so it was good personally to get out there for a run and get used to match situations again."
So the risk of letting any of the 3 leave is clear, you lose all the prosperity the team had been striving for these past months. Who then will be on the way out?
The Big Money Stars
The club's wage bill won't please Shahid Khan considering the position in the table and the chance of promotion virtually zero. But what will please the American is that releasing just one of these stars will cut down that bill by tens of thousands of pounds. The 3 players expected to be earning over 50k are Hugo Rodallega, Ross McCormack and the permanently redundant Konstatinos Mitroglou. Of Course, Khan isn't currently paying the Greek, who is on loan at Olympiakos, but the £10million plus spent on the star seems just money down the drain. Meanwhile, stats show that McCormack and Rodallega are vital starters, together creating and scoring a total of 28 goals. However, with the clock ticking for the Colombian to sign a new contract, it's hard to imagine a Fulham future for the 29-year-old next season. Meanwhile there has been speculation over McCormack's Fulham future, but it is impossible to see such a new signing leave the club so soon.
McCormack is a sure fire stay then, and Rodallega's path seems to be curved towards a summer release, but the big Greek will have to decide between giving the Championship a shot or sticking with Champions League football. You can see now that from his perspective the choice is clear...
The Hit And Hope Signing
Matt Smith joined the club for a fee in the region of £500k, looking to resurrect the Smith-McCormack partnership. After being loaned out to Bristol City, that looks all the more in doubt. The giant striker, though, has taken to life in League One with ambition and confidence, and has hit blistering form for City. His greatest accomplishment was hitting 4 in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy area-final, making it look as though Bristol are a one-man-team. Whether Kit Symons will think of this as a sign to recall the ex-Leeds man is another question, but what is looking more likely now is a £1million for Bristol to sign him on a permanent deal.
Personally I would like to give all 7 players a shot at proving themselves, but that is an impossible job in such a competitive league. Good form in training is the way for these players to shine through, so we'll have to wait until the end of the season to find out who Kit really wants, and who the team really needs...