Wolverhampton Wanderers were last night looking to top scorer Carl Cort's timely comeback from injury in a bid to find a solution to their goal-scoring problem.
On the day Wolves admitted they were close to defeat in their bid to sign main January transfer window target Izale McLeod, manager Glenn Hoddle was consoled by Cort's goal-scoring return to action for the reserves at Newcastle.
Cort has been out for more than two months with a knee injury that forced him to undergo surgery in late October. Despite missing Wolves' last 14 games, he is still the club's top scorer, with nine goals, and remains among the Championship's top six marksmen. But, having taken longer than expected to recover, Cort wasted little time on his return to action to show he has not lost his goal touch.
The big striker took just five minutes to head Wolves' reserves in front against his old club Newcastle United at Kingston Park last night. And, although the visitors were to lose 2-1, Cort's 45-minute run-out was a complete success.
Hoddle now has to weigh up whether to bring Cort straight back for Saturday's FA Cup rematch with Plymouth Argyle, who scraped a 1-1 draw in league action at Molineux last weekend. But the Wolves boss's other causes for concern are perhaps more long-term ones.
Wolves are waiting to see whether Kenny Miller will move back to Scotland. For the moment, all that Hoddle knows is that Miller will not play against Luton Town next Friday night.
Just like his team-mate Gabor Gyepes, Miller picked up a fifth booking of the season in Monday's 2-0 defeat to Coventry
City and will be suspended. But, with potential replacements in mind, whether short term or long term, Hoddle will remain on red alert for the whole of January. Although he remains out of Wolves' modest price range, McLeod - also a target for Birmingham City - is still considered by Hoddle as one for the back burner.
"If there's anyone out there who's a clinical finisher he would have a field day with us," said Hoddle. "But McLeod is a player for the future. He is a 20-year-old and we need someone who can make a difference now.
"We've offered MK Dons £600,000 then increased the bid with some add-ons but, unless they become realistic with what they are asking, it's dead and buried."
Hoddle, keen to tie up a deal for Aston Villa keeper Stefan Postma, is also hopeful that Tottenham Hotspur will allow the on-loan Tom Huddlestone to remain at Molineux.
Huddlestone was left out on Boxing Day, only made the bench on his 19th birthday at Hillsborough last Wednesday night and was supposed to have played his last game for Wolves on Monday. But, although he would not be allowed to play in the FA Cup, Wolves hope to extend his loan.
"We're going to talk to Spurs and hope they'll let him stay to the season," said Hoddle. "They might do that with a 24-hour recall in case they get injuries."