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Did Billy Sharp do enough in his recall against Norwich?

Elland Road

The 29-year-old striker found himself back up front in the lone striker role for Leeds in Tuesday night's 2-0 defeat to Norwich, but how did he perform?

Head coach Neil Redfearn has rotated his strikers in recent weeks, as he seeks the cutting edge that Leeds have been sorely lacking. With no striker scoring in any of the last four games - all of which Leeds have lost - Redfearn turned to Billy Sharp again on Tuesday night, but once more Leeds drew a blank.

Leeds' strikers have contributed just 20 goals out of the team's total of 47 in the Sky Bet Championship this season, with two of them - Steve Morison and Edgar Cani - not scoring at all. 

The 4-5-1 formation that Leeds switched to in January has been largely successful, but has relied heavily on goals from midfield, with Alex Mowatt, Sam Byram, Luke Murphy and Rodolph Austin all finding the net during the 2015 run that confirmed Leeds' Championship status for another season. 

Of the three men that have been played in the lone striker role - Sharp, Morison and Italian Mirco Antenucci - it is Sharp that has perhaps handled the position the best. Sharp works tirelessly and has probably carried the biggest goal threat of the three main strikers, and while that is a difficult combination of attributes to perform on the pitch, nobody could say he was truly suited to the lone role.

On Tuesday evening, Sharp once again got little change out of a resolute Norwich defence, and was provided with little ammunition from a stifled Leeds midfield, more occupied with stopping Norwich playing than being creative themselves. Hence, Sharp didn't manage a single shot on goal. But nobody within Elland Road was pointing the finger at the Sheffield-born striker who has five goals to his name this term. 

As often happens with this formation, Sharp was largely required to drift wide to find space, and when he twice created crossing opportunities there was nobody in the box to pass to. 

Leeds' main attacking outlet is the pace and natural width of Sam Byram, but on Tuesday night Neil Redfearn swapped him and the left-sided Charlie Taylor - himself a left-back already playing out of position - to opposite flanks, so the cutting edge that Byram provides was badly missing. It may have been a ploy to prevent Norwich's full-backs attacking down the wings, but it also left Leeds bereft of any width themselves. 

As a result, Sharp was left with the thankless task of foraging for the ball and hoping he had attacking support from midfield whenever he won it. Sadly, that was too often not the case, and just one shot on target for Leeds all game tells it's own story, and that shot was from Mowatt not Sharp.

The pattern didn't change too much when Antenucci was introduced from the bench on 71 minutes, and with Leeds playing with two front men, they still created little to worry a strong Norwich side that cruised to a 12th win in 15 games, which was cemented by a Graham Dorrans strike in the 90th minute.

Of the options Leeds have available up front, Sharp remains probably the most likely to find goals, while also doing the honest endeavour the lone role inevitably requires. Sharp has good upper body strength and can hold the ball up well, he has the vision to find runners and a natural ability to scavenge a goal in the box.

Sharp showed all of that on Tuesday night, but is reliant on midfield support to create scoring opportunities, and that was sadly lacking against a top two side that had attacking options in abundance. However, I would expect Sharp to retain his place for Saturday's trip to Charlton.

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