Middlesbrough’s attacking line could be set a big shake-up come the summer transfer window.
Neil Warnock has gone on the record this season saying that he’s less-than impressed with the output of his strikers, and that could lead to some wholesale changes in his attacking options.
Chuba Akpom has struggled to adapt this season, while there’s real uncertainty over the future of both Britt Assombalonga and Ashley Fletcher as they approach the end of their respective contracts.
Assombalonga’s situation has been discussed at length, but for Fletcher the situation isn’t quite as clear-cut.
Injuries have played a significant role in the 25-year-old lack of form this season, but that hasn’t stopped Sheffield United from sniffing around with a view to a summer move.
But what do the numbers say about Fletcher’s campaign for Middlesbrough? We took to Wyscout to have a look.
It’s a real shame that Ashley Fletcher’s season has been so blighted by injury.
Taking a look at the key numbers behind his performances it certainly seems like the striker was on track to beat his best-ever goal tally of 13 that he recorded last season.
So far this term the 25-year-old has been limited to just 12 appearances for the club.
Four of those appearances came in the first two weeks of the season with Fletcher finding the net twice in the EFL Cup clash with Shrewsbury Town in the season’s curtain-raiser.
A hamstring injury ruled him out for much of the first half of the season, before his return in January saw him dip in and out of the starting XI as he built up his fitness.
A total of four goals in 12 matches is a decent tally for any player, but considering that Fletcher has only actually started seven games this term it makes his record even more impressive.
What’s even more impressive is that his tally of four goals gives him a strike-rate that’s better than he should have.
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Based on expected goals, Fletcher should have scored 3.15 goals so far this term – a statistic based on the quality and quantity of genuine goalscoring opportunities presented to him.
A part of that includes the fact that he has had just 1.74 shots per game, suggesting that his chance conversion is pretty good.
Fletcher has also averaged just 3.62 touches in the penalty area per game – an average that certainly hints at how isolated the player has been at times when leading the line for Middlesbrough.
Given his conversion rate and the lack of service seemingly available to him, a safe assumption would say that if Fletcher was handed more clear-cut goalscoring opportunities then his goal tally for the season could have been even higher.
Of course with his future hanging in the balance it remains to be seen whether he’ll stick around at the club next season, but looking at these numbers it certainly would give Neil Warnock a feeling of optimism knowing that they have a striker who knows how to find the net if he’s given the required service.