Hotshot striker is a Britt special
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.