Steve Bruce has leapt to the defence of Emile Heskey after he finally broke his three-month goal drought this week and has backed his record signing to once again reach double figures in the goal charts.
Heskey's close range goal against Millwall was his third of the season but he has been criticised along with fellow strikers Walter Pandiani and Mikael Forssell this season over the team's paltry goal return.
They have only scored eight goals from 13 Premiership fixtures, of which Heskey has two, and the finger has been pointed firmly at the front three.
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Heskey scored 11 goals last term in his debut season for the club and was voted player of the season, as he led the line with aplomb.
And he is ahead of last season's ratio as he had only scored two goals before the clash with Albion in mid December signalled a run of four goals in four games.
So, despite his lack of goals this term, Bruce insists he is on course for another respectable tally.
Heskey's goal celebration - he ran the length of the pitch with his hand cupped to his ear after criticism from home supporters - encapsulated his tangible relief.
Bruce admits that Heskey's confidence has taken a nosedive after failing to score since August 27th prior to his strike at Millwall.
"Emile takes some unfair criticism," lamented Bruce. "We all know the territory, as a striker you have to expect it, but he is a good player.
"He was our player of the year last year and has been very good for 15 months for this club.
"He maybe hasn't got the goal return we would like and of course it is confidence as no one likes to be abused, but he has been terrific.
"His overall performance has been very good and we still expect him to get between ten and 15 goals a season.
"I am convinced he will do that again this year."
Certain sections of the media have been trying to compare Heskey's plight to that currently being experience by Peter Crouch.
The giant target man has failed to score for Liverpool since his summer move from Southampton and has been jeered by England supporters.
But Bruce played down any comparisons between the target men and is convinced that Heskey's confidence will have been given a huge fillip by his poacher's goal at the New Den.
"Emile and Peter Crouch are both good players but, no disrespect intended, I am not interested in Peter Crouch, I am only interested in Emile and I am very pleased with him.
"He needed a little tap in like he got against Millwall where it rebounded off the keeper and he stuck it in from inside the six-yard box, as he hasn't had one of those.
"You have to believe and he has led the line fantastically well. We always knew that maybe he wasn't going to be a prolific goalscorer when he signed, but his importance for the team is immense for us.
"He was very good on Wednesday and considering he was carrying an injury, I thought he was excellent.
"Goals have been our Achilles heel, but he has played a huge part in our last 14 months and you won't get any complaints from me.
"We have got Mikael Forssell out with a thigh strain who we know is capable of scoring goals, but we will keep persevering."
Heskey suffered a badly twisted knee against Millwall, which has left him as a serious doubt ahead of their clash with West Ham on Monday.
That could pose problematic for Bruce as he is already without Forssell and Pandiani looked shorn of confidence at the New Den.
Bruce does still not consider Njazi Kuqi a viable option so he could be facing a dilemma ahead of a fixture they can't afford to lose if they are to haul themselves out of the relegation zone.
Julian Gray and Jermaine Pennant also sustained minor injuries at Millwall, but both players expect to be fit for selection for the West Ham fixture.
But at least Bruce can take solace from the fact that four more of his walking wounded had valuable match practice against Millwall in their dramatic Carling Cup tie.
"We needed the game as it was Stephen Clemence and
Nick Butt's first game for two months," said Bruce.
"It was only Mario Melchiot's second game in two months while David Dunn got some more minutes under his belt as well.
"We are in the hat for the last eight but we made mighty hard work of it. I thought we were by far the better team for an hour and could have been three or four goals clear.
"Fair play to Millwall as they equalised and made it a hell of a cup-tie that was very difficult for the last 25 minutes.
"When you don't take those chances, then you always run the risk of that happening."