Neil Lennon will be pleased with the resilience shown by his Bolton Wanderers side in their consecutive 0-0 draws with Reading FC and in-form Ipswich Town in the last two weeks. What he won't be pleased with is the striker crisis the club faces as we quickly approach the jam-packed festive period.
Craig Davies was forced off the field at the Madejski Stadium, while his strike partner Max Clayton was stretchered off against Ipswich on Saturday with what is feared to be a knee ligament injury. News has also emerged that Joe Mason has torn a hamstring, leaving him sidelined for three months and almost certain to return to Cardiff City.
The loss of his two in-form strikers leaves Lennon with the option of 19-year-old Conor Wilkinson, who is a good prospect but understandably struggled in his lone strike role on his full debut on Saturday, and 36-year-old Eidur Gudjohnsen, who is highly unlikely to be able to complete a full 90 minutes.
The bad news leaves Lennon scratching his head as to who can step up in place of Davies and Clayton, with games against Millwall FC on Friday, Blackburn Rovers on Boxing Day and Huddersfield Town on December 28th coming in a short space of time, before the FA Cup Third Round clash with Wigan Athletic on January 3rd. And it's not as if we have the option of a wealth of other youngsters queuing up to claim the first-team opportunity.
One option could be to offer a short-term deal to 36-year-old former England international Emile Heskey, who has been in training with the club since leaving the Australian A-League. Given his age and lack of recent decent competitive football it seems highly unlikely that Heskey, like Gudjohnsen, could make it through 90 minutes and it's debatable whether he is capable of playing to the standard required for Championship football. Which leaves Lennon still struggling to fill the vacant forward roles.
The only other option - and I hate to say it - is for Lennon to recall the strikers he has already sent out on loan, namely goal-shy Jermaine Beckford, who also isn't good enough for the Championship, and young Tom Eaves. Frankly, I'd rather see David Wheater playing up front than have Beckford back at the club, but Lennon may well be left with little option.