Ipswich Town could lack physical presence in defence against Leeds United dangerman Chris Wood

Chris Wood is on fire for Leeds

Chris Wood is on fire for Leeds - Credit: PA

How do you solve a problem like Chris Wood?

The Leeds striker, who had a low-key loan spell at Portman Road in 2015 – failing to score in eight appearances – is currently second in the Championship’s goalscoring charts, with 19 goals, and has hit eight in his last eight games.

On Saturday, the bustling, physical hitman returns to Portman Road with the play-off chasing Whites, looking to add to his tally against a Blues side that could have three recognised centre-backs missing.

Full-backs Jordan Spence and Jonas Knudsen performed admirably alongside Luke Chambers in a three-man defence, during the 1-1 draw at Brighton, and in the second half of the victory at Aston Villa.

However, Wood’s physical presence cries out for an equally uncompromising marker and Tommy Smith (back), Steven Taylor (hamstring) and Christophe Berra (concussion) would normally fit the bill.

Berra is the only player from the trio that has a chance of returning, having missed Tuesday’s draw at Brighton – the Scottish international having been battered and bruised more times than he would care to remember since arriving in Suffolk.

Smith is stepping up his comeback from a back injury, while new arrival Taylor is likely to be out for a month with the injury picked up at Villa.

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But while his presence will be missed on the pitch, manager Mick McCarthy believes the former Newcastle defender could still play a big part in the dressing room and benefit a defence with an average age of just 24 against Brighton.

“He’s a good player, he’s been a good voice around it, an experienced voice. He’s just been good for the training ground, the lads have taken to him,” said McCarthy.

“And he’s going to be out for four weeks at least. He’ll tell me three but it’ll be three or four weeks.”

He added: “I hear him when he’s in the dressing room with us and on the pitch is my thing, he’s always encouraging, he’s always cajoling, he’s always using his experience to pull players around, you can hear him doing that,”

“That’s a big part of it and I just think that younger players gravitate towards lads like him who, when they speak, they speak sense, and when they play, they play well.

Young fellas like to have them around them. The experienced players do as well.”