Leeds United manager Steve Evans has insisted that injury-plagued striker Chris Wood does not have anything to prove to anyone despite featuring just twice in 2016, as quoted by the Yorkshire Evening Post.
The 24-year-old cost the Whites £3 million when he arrived at Elland Road from Leicester City last summer, making him the club's most expensive signing since the purchase of Nick Barmby in 2002.
The New Zealand international has gone some way to repaying that fee, currently standing as the club's top goalscorer with eight strikes in his debut season in Yorkshire.
However, the former West Bromwich Albion man has appeared just twice since the turn of the year, in back-to-back games at the end of January, as he has struggled to recover from hamstring injuries.
The striker came though full training on Monday and Evans has insisted that, should he return to the matchday squad for Tuesday's clash with Cardiff or at the weekend, he does not have to prove himself all over again to Leeds fans.
Evans said, as quoted by the YEP: "It could be that he’s on the bench at Cardiff. It’s a possibility so long as there’s no concern about him. But if it’s not Cardiff then he’ll definitely be involved at Blackburn on Saturday.
"We’re desperate to have him back and to be fair, he’s desperate to be playing too. It’s been frustrating for him but we saw in January that these problems can reoccur easily. We’ve really missed him but we’ve tried to do our best by him.
"He’s got nothing to prove though, and certainly not to me. I think he’s a top player in this league and people have seen the difference when he’s been in the team. A player like Chris is massive for anyone. It’ll make a big difference to us having him back."
In Wood's absence, Leeds' other strikers such as Mirco Antenucci and Souleymane Doukara have struggled to step up to the mark in terms of scoring goals for the club.
However, Antenucci's brace in the 2-1 win over Bolton Wanderers on Saturday has given Evans something to think about in terms of his attacking selection whenever Wood is fit enough to return.
Leeds currently sit 16th in the Championship, nine points clear of the relegation zone and 14 points off a place in the play-offs.