Is Billy Sharp the lone striker to answer Leeds' problem?

Elland Road East Stand

Saturday's 3-2 defeat to Watford saw Billy Sharp as the latest striker to plough a lone furrow in the 4-2-3-1 formation, and he weighed in with a goal.

Although Billy Sharp notched his fourth goal in a Leeds shirt - and the 150th of his career - in what has been a difficult season for the much-travelled front man, Leeds went on to concede a 2-0 advantage and collapse to a shattering 3-2 defeat against Watford.

Sharp worked tirelessly throughout in trademark fashion and drew praise from manager Neil Redfearn for his overall performance.

However, Sharp's stature and poacher's instinct, so evident in the opening goal that he snapped up on six minutes, suggest he is not ideal for the physical demands of the lone striker role.

So what options do Leeds have left?

Since Redfearn adopted the new formation for January's FA Cup tie at Sunderland, it has been Steve Morison in the forward role.

While Leeds have seen a renaissance in their season having changed formation, with just two defeats in nine league games before Saturday's Sky Bet Championship fixture with Watford, Morison has played his part but rarely looked like scoring in the unforgiving role that often sees him drifting wide to hold the ball up.

Albanian striker Edgar Cani was signed on loan from Catania in January, and has the stature to occupy defenders at the back, but in his three brief substitute appearances so far, it is clear he needs time to adapt to English football. 

Leeds' leading goalscorer this season remains Italian Mirco Antenucci with eight goals, despite not having started a game since January.

Antenucci is undoubtedly the victim of this formation change, and in a brave move by Redfearn was dropped for a brief loss of form around Christmas, despite being far and away the most potent striker on Leeds' books this season.

The Italian has the movement, skill, control and eye for goal to play the lone front man role, but Redfearn clearly questions whether he has the physique and work-rate of Morison.

Remaining in Leeds' squad are Souleymane Doukara, who started the season like a train with seven goals up to November, but who has gone off the boil and would appear to lack the stature and mentality for the lone role, and youngster Lewis Walters, who is currently working his way back from injury.

Both Doukara and Walters may lack the tools to play up front alone, but could provide an answer to Leeds' lack of potency in wide areas.

Undoubtedly, however, finding the personnel for the lone front man role is critical to the rest of this season for Redfearn, and assuming Leeds stick with the formation that appears to suit their key individuals better, it is imperative for next season also.

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