Why Nahki Wells' debut Burnley season has been underwhelming
Burnley paid Huddersfield Town £5m for striker Nahki Wells on deadline day last summer. His debut season at Turf Moor hasn’t gone to plan. Injuries and stiff competition up front have seen Wells on the periphery for most of the campaign. The challenge will now be to put himself into contention next season. Much has gone against Wells in 2017/18 but he can still have a career at Burnley if he works hard this summer.
Lingering injury carried over from Huddersfield
The 27-year-old joined Burnley on the final day of last summer’s transfer window already carrying a Malleolar injury. Wells was out of action for the season's first two months. When he finally made Burnley’s matchday squad he was far from match fit.
Inactivity left his fitness level considerably lower than his teammates. Consequently manager Sean Dyche opted against bringing him off the bench in the Premier League from October to mid-December. Wells was omitted from the matchday squad four times and an unused substitute five times. Dyche didn’t give the striker a league appearance until the day before Christmas Eve. It was a four-minute showing in the 3-0 defeat to Tottenham.
Strong competition proving difficult to overcome
Wells has been desperate for more playing time to boost his match fitness. Unfortunately his rivals in the Burnley attack have yet to put a foot wrong this season. The Clarets added Chris Wood to a group featuring Ashley Barnes and Sam Vokes. Before signing Wells, Dyche possessed a perfect blend of power and goals. Wells isn't yet a target man who can lead a top-flight line on his own.
Wood, Barnes, and Vokes have scored 16 goals between them. That's nearly 60% of Burnley's entire haul. The trio can hold their own when up against a physical defence and have been in fine form thus far. Dyche can have few complaints but it only hampers Wells’ chances of getting a shout.
Burnley have had a fantastic season. The Turf Moor outfit are in the Premier League top-seven after 30 games and look like staying. Dyche has unsurprisingly kept faith with the players who have contributed. Fringe players have only been given a look when injury forces his hand.
Wells has a decision to make this summer
If next season appears set to go the way this one has Wells might request a short-term move elsewhere to guarantee playing time.
Burnley have recently extended Ashley Barnes' contract. His first-team spot is nailed down for the foreseeable future. Chris Wood has enjoyed a good debut season after joining the club last summer. The Kiwi's future also looks to be at Turf Moor.
Sam Vokes status is less certain. The 28-year-old isn’t as prolific or used as often as the aforementioned duo. Wells could have a chance to claim the Welshman's place in the 2018/19 first-team.
Having amassed just 32 minutes of Premier League action since the move to Burnley, the Bermuda international can’t afford another wasted season. Just like a striker on the pitch he'll have to size up the situation quickly and put himself in the best position to succeed.