The Football League Paper - - CHRIS DUNLAVY -

BRIS­TOL City may not be hav­ing a fab­u­lous time of it this sea­son, but it’s great to see their striker Sam Bal­dock among the goals.

Pro­lific at MK Dons as a teenager, Bal­dock joined West Ham in Au­gust 2011 for a fee of £2.5m. It was no mean out­lay for an untested 21-year-old, yet he wore the bur­den lightly, scor­ing five goals in his first six starts.

Sadly, in­jury then con­signed him to the side­lines and, un­will­ing to await his re­cov­ery, Sam Allardyce be­gan sign­ing strik­ers left, right and cen­tre.

By the time Bal­dock re­turned, he was ar­guably fifth choice be­hind Ri­cardo Vaz Te, Carl­ton Cole, Nicky May­nard and Fred­die Piquionne. He never scored for the Ham­mers again and was sold fol­low­ing pro­mo­tion to the Pre­mier League.

Some­times, mov­ing to a big club is patently id­i­otic. The stag­na­tion of men like John Bo­s­tock and, as we saw last week, Josh McQuoid are prime ex­am­ples.

But Bal­dock proved he was ready for the Cham­pi­onship. He sim­ply en­coun­tered rank bad luck and a club un­will­ing to wait.

Had he stayed fit, May­nard and Vaz Te might never have ar­rived. He might even be a Pre­mier League foot­baller.

In­stead he is back in League One, but with 17 goals and count­ing, he shouldn’t be there for too long.

PIC­TURE: Ac­tion Im­ages

PRO­LIFIC: Sam Bal­dock scores for Bris­tol City against MK Dons

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