CHRIS WOOD is set to return to the Leeds United line-up as a more powerful striking force, says head coach Steve Evans.
The New Zealander has missed United’s last five games with a fresh hamstring problem which he picked up during his full comeback appearance from a similar injury at Brentford.
And while Evans confirmed that the target-man will not be rushed back for Monday night’s Championship trip to Brighton, the head coach feels delaying Wood’s return will be worth the wait.
Evans expects the 24-year-old to return to the Leeds side for next Saturday’s home clash with Bolton.
“With Chris Wood, his body is a temple,” said Evans. “But we have made it more lean, more mean and more keen.
“We have looked at the best stats of his career, what kind of weight ratio he had then and all that stuff and the big man has bought into it.
“The performances will be the judge but I’m just saying people will see him leaner and more meaner and I mean meaner in terms of power and performance.
“Everyone inside the training camp and the training centre here at Thorp Arch sees it on a daily basis, how much sharper he is looking, how much better he is looking.
“The performances will be the judge of that but he deserves enormous credit for taking it on board and going and doing it.
“It’s easy to talk about it, it’s harder to do it.”
Asked about a date for Wood’s return, Evans added: “I’m not expecting him for Brighton, possibly for Bolton.
“He has worked so hard, the fitness team deserve all the credit and non more so than big Chris himself. He’s put the hours in and he now looks like the footballer I want Chris Wood to be.
“Now we just need to make sure he’s 100 per cent.
“We could play him at Brighton but there would be the same element of risk that we had at Brentford and that just cannot be an option.”