Bristol City will consider free transfers after Benik Afobe blow, confirms Lee Johnson
No sooner did Bristol City lose their main spearhead striker than the club were shut out successfully for the first time this season.
A 0-0 draw against Swansea City on Saturday afternoon featured just two shots on target for either side, and although the Robins kept a clean sheet, they rarely looked capable of netting against Steve Cooper’s visiting outfit.
Afobe’s physical prowess, close control and rapier-sharp runs were sorely missed and following the game Lee Johnson reflected again on the week’s most devastating news concerning the side from BS3.
The head coach admitted that Afobe was sent for scans on Wednesday night and explained that that was why there was no mention of the injured striker in the pre-match press conference held the same day, with the results not in until later in the week. He also reflected on the options available to him in attack – including taking to the transfer market.
“It feels horrible – for him first and foremost – but then also for the team as he’s made a big impression with them,” said Johnson.
“It’s a truth of football and it happens. And that’s why I’m so happy with the squad. It happens a lot – whenever we take two steps forward it’s one step back.
“There’s a lot that has gone on: an ACL and and a few more bits in the knee as well. The things that will determine that [if he goes back to Stoke City or stays here] are the surgeon’s report on the timescale, so if it’s going to be longer then the loan he will go back to Stoke becasue he’s their asset.
“If the surgeon turns round and says it’s six months and he can play the last six months it’s a different kettle of fish.
“We’ll let the powers that be, and the insurance and the two clubs, and the CEOs decide that.
“From my point of view, Benik’s been fantastic in the dressing room and of course on the pitch. So, it’s a big loss for us but people have got to step up.
“The likes of Semenyo and obviously Szmodics can play in that role as you saw today, for a proportion of the game, need to come to fruition.
“There are a couple of frees out and about that we could potentially have a look at. A couple of agents have contacted us.
“We’ll see what the situation is with that. But mainly we just want to get as many of the injured boys back fit as possible,” added Johnson.
Available players include Gary Hooper and Wilfried Bony, but any signing would carry its own difficulties – such as would the new man be fit and is any deal financially viable.
“It’s a possibility… I’m not too bothered about the type of striker as we’re pretty flexible with our formations. If you had an opportunity to take a top player that was fit, you would take it wouldn’t you? We’ll have a look.,” he added.
“I’m not committing to any decision at this point but there are probably three or four out there that fit the bill in various ways and we’ll have to have a look,” said Johnson.