Hot­shot striker is a Britt spe­cial

Sunday Sun - - Football -

GOAL ma­chine Britt As­som­ba­longa is emerg­ing as the most cru­cial fac­tor in Boro’s bat­tle to stay on the pro­mo­tion trail.

The 24-year-old has al­ready re­paid a slice of the club record fee of £14m which Boro handed to Not­ting­ham For­est for his ser­vices in the sum­mer.

As­som­ba­longa has al­ready reached dou­ble fig­ures, well be­fore Christ­mas. At this rate, he is well on course to score 20-plus goals be­fore the end of the cam­paign.

It’s highly un­likely that the Zaire-born for­ward will come any­where near to match­ing the re­mark­able tally of 33 goals which he scored in all com­pe­ti­tions for Peter­bor­ough United four sea­sons ago.

But that’s the only pre­vi­ous oc­ca­sion when As­som­ba­longa has topped 20 goals, which in­di­cates – bar­ring in­juries – that this will be his sec­ond-best goalscor­ing cam­paign.

He did miss much of one sea­son at For­est as a re­sult of a knee in­jury, and also suf­fered from a ham­string prob­lem last term.

How­ever, As­som­ba­longa has suf­fered no fit­ness prob­lems while with Boro, touch wood. His con­tin­u­ing fit­ness will play a key role in Boro’s prospects.

He did blow hot and cold while he was set­tling in but was robbed of the op­por­tu­nity to bed him­self into his new strik­ing part­ner­ship with Martin Braith­waite, who suf­fered a ham­string in­jury in Boro’s first game at Wolves.

Even so, As­som­ba­longa left no doubts that he had a pres­ence in the op­po­si­tion penalty area, de­spite mixed form in front of goal.

Now that he has prop­erly set­tled in, and is de­vel­op­ing an un­der­stand­ing with Braith­waite, As­som­ba­longa looks the real deal.

Cer­tainly if he can score enough goals to earn Boro a play-off place at least, then the huge in­vest­ment in him will be money well spent.

As­som­ba­longa is a healthy 5/1 with some book­mak­ers to be top scorer in the Cham­pi­onship, be­hind Wolves’ Brazil­ian striker Leo Bona­tini, who is a cou­ple of points shorter.

Bona­tini rep­re­sents an as­tute piece of busi­ness by Wolves, be­cause he was snapped up on loan from a Saudi Ara­bian club. He has proved to be a huge suc­cess in the West Mid

lands. Britt As­som­ba­longa could be the man to help fire Boro up the Cham­pi­onship ta­ble

The other short-priced Cham­pi­onship strik­ers chal­leng­ing to be the divi­sion’s top scorer are Sh­effield United’s 30-year-old duo Leon Clarke and Billy Sharp, and Sun­der­land’s Lewis Grab­ban.

Wolves re­main odds on both to win pro­mo­tion and the ti­tle and have al­ready cre­ated a large gap be­tween them­selves and Boro.

Garry Monk’s men are around 20/1 to win the ti­tle, which re­flects the ground they have to make up, al­though they are as short as 11/4 to win pro­mo­tion by what­ever means.

Wolves and Sh­effield United have in­di­cated that the key to a suc­cess­ful pro­mo­tion push is hav­ing play­ers with the abil­ity to put the ball reg­u­larly into the onion bag.

In As­som­ba­longa, Monk might have found the player to help shoot Boro back to the Premier League at the first at­tempt.

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