DAN THE FAN: Nile issue underlines firepower shortage

SWINDON’S lack of a number nine came back to haunt them again last weekend as Mark Cooper’s striker-less formation nearly sent the traveling fans over the edge at Bramall Lane.

When Town signed Nile Ranger in the summer, everyone knew it was a huge gamble.

There is no doubt that Nile is a Premier League striker and has all the attributes needed to play at the top level.

But because of his problems off the pitch, he’s found himself in League One.

In the first few months at the County Ground it looked to be a great piece of business, with the striker playing consistently and scoring plenty of goals in the process.

But out of the eight games played since the start of November, Nile has only made three appearances, and hasn’t worn the red and white oat all in December.

It’s obvious and understandable that the 22-year old’s mind has drifted onto his upcoming court case.

But manager Mark Cooper has stated that Ranger won’t feature again for Town “until he shows the rest of the players a bit more respect”.

This whole situation can not be left to gather dust over the Christmas period and into January – he is too important to our future success.

The club either has to bring him back, or sign a replacement.

With Nicky Ajose likely to leave in January, that’ll leave us with Dany N’Guessan, Miles Storey and Mohamed El-Gabbas as the club’s strike force going forward.

None of those three are the same type of striker, and can’t play in the number nine role vacated by Ranger.

Lets hope this new link with another Premier League club, announced by chairman Lee Power last week can deliver us a new striker in early 2014.

How Town operate in the upcoming transfer window will determine whether we are fighting for a play-off place, or a mid-table finish.

With Alex Pritchard and Ajose likely to be sold by their parent clubs next month, they will have to be replaced, no excuses, ifs, or buts.

It will be Power’s first big test as chairman of the club since taking over from Jed McCrory a few weeks ago.

If the Town faithful only witnesses players leaving, he could potentially lose the trust he desperately needs if he wants to be successful.

With Cooper only trusting Darren Ward and Grant Hall to play regularly at centre -back, a couple of new faces to increase competition need to come in, with Troy Archibald-Henville out for the long term.

The Town squad will play four games in 12 days from this Saturday over the hectic Christmas schedule, starting with Coventry at the County Ground this weekend.

Finally, a tribute for a good friend of mine Doug Sawyer who passed away last week. Doug (1927-2013) was one of the most genuine people I’ve ever met, a true man of God.

FOR MORE SPORTS NEWS, REPORTS & PICTURES SEE THURSDAY'S GAZETTE & HERALD AND FOLLOW US ON TWITTER @gazsport

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