As Kevin Doyle returns to the fold for Wolves following speculation of a move to the MLS, Sam Lambeth looks at whether Doyle can make an impact for the remainder of the season.
Wolves’ recent clash with Rotherham was notable for two reasons. Firstly, the 5-0 thrashing; Wolves shook off the slumber that devoured them in their 2-0 loss to Norwich, and showed renewed vigour and bite to demolish Rotherham. Secondly, on the bench there was a place for long-mothballed striker Kevin Doyle.
There was a flurry of excitement and some confusion when “16). Doyle” was seen on the bench, with some people thinking it was a loan signing rather than the hitman. But not only was it the long-serving Irishman, he was also given a half-hour run-out, showing his experience and commitment to the cause.
Although a move to the MLS with Colorado Rapids is in the offing, Wolves manager Kenny Jackett saw it prudent to bring back ‘Doyler’ to first-team duties, even if it may just be to impress his American suitors.
Whatever the reason, for as long as the 31-year-old striker is still at Molineux, it would be sensible to utilise his experience and skills, particularly due to the lack of strikers in gold & black.
Some would say Doyle should have been incorporated from the very beginning. Although his whopping wages were a factor, out of all of Wolves’ deadwood, Doyle still had a spark about him. What’s more, he had a professional attitude.
With Wolves back in the second-tier, there was always slight concern about the power of the team’s frontline; Nouha Dicko had blossomed in League One, but would he be ready for Championship action? Liam McAlinden is still young and learning the game, Jake Cassidy never took his chance and, well, the less said about Leon Clarke the better. Despite this, Jackett saw it fit to not sign a striker, or use Doyle.
Now Doyle has a chance, albeit brief, to sign off his Wolves career with a flourish. One of the few remaining stalwarts left, although his scoring rate is far from prolific, he brings so much to the frontman role – his hold-up play, aerial ability and the knack for winning handy free-kicks will be welcomed as the season brims to its most exciting.
Benik Afobe and Dicko are quite rightly starting at the moment, but Doyle is more than adept for a super-sub. It’s highly likely he won’t be offered a new contract if his MLS move falls through, so hopefully now Doyle can remind Wolves fans of his determination and doggedness before he moves to pastures new.
Now the bomb squad has been well and truly detonated, if Doyle’s place amongst the first-team is more than a passing fancy, is he the solution to a problem Wolves never needed to have?
Jackett has always been a little light on forwards, and resolved this with two loans – Yannick Sagbo was bought in from Hull, but the burly hitman was gangly and goalless. Sunderland’s Danny Graham, a man so barren in goals he makes Doyle look like Harry Kane, was then drafted in, and although he played well, he couldn’t get the goals flowing.
With Doyle in the fold, have Wolves got the perfect solution? A hard-working striker that can compliment Dicko and Afobe?
Whilst it’s a shame he has been away for so long, it’s refreshing to see Jackett is finally addressing Doyle’s qualities and attitude and giving him one more shot before he parts. Who knows, at this rate we might see George Margreitter rocking the bench soon.
(Image via expressandstar.com)