Go on, hands up if you thought Kyle Wootton would turn out to be this good when Notts County signed him on loan from a struggling League Two side at the end of August?
Granted, one of the things fans have constantly complained about is the lack of a big, strong target man. Someone who can hold the ball up, bring other players into the game, win the headers and generally lead the line in a way which helps the poachers like Kristian Dennis and Wes Thomas find the space to play their own game.
At the point of signing him, Wootton had a League record of 15 goals in 101 games and 2 goals in 22 games on loan to Nation al League sides.
Hardly the stuff to whet the appetite but that just shows how misleading statistics can be – especially when a lot of those appearances were from the bench.
His full debut at home to a dour Solihull side which came to stifle the game, and did that superbly in a goalless draw, didn’t really give much of an idea. But away at Sutton United the following Saturday took your breath away.
A wonderful all round performance capped with a fantastic goal gave huge hope that we might have the striker we’ve been waiting for since Jimmy Spencer. With 16 goals at around a goal every other game, he has certainly found the scoring touch as well as helping his colleagues – and let’s not forget that holding the ball can also take pressure of the defence and give them time to reorganise.
It’s strange to think that when January came around, one of our fears was that we’d lose him as he was attracting the attention of League clubs. Thankfully, he settled so well at Notts and speaks so highly of the management that it appears that was never really likely as soon as we made our move to make him a Notts player rather than a loanee.
I think that could turn out to be one of the best signings we could have made, because there are very few players around at this level who can do what he does and, if we are able to get back in the League, I have no doubts that he’ll do just as well in League Two.
Another thing to consider is the amount of work he gets through. While Ardley likes to rotate his players, and rarely plays any of the others strikers twice in a week, Kyle Wootton hardly misses out and leads the line in a manner which shows far more maturity than his 23 years. I feel there is much more to come and am really looking forward to him being a major part of the club at least for the immediate future.
One downside of performing well at a lower league club is that it’s difficult to hold on to them, so let’s enjoy him while he’s here.