Football FanCast columnist Steve Woodgate asks is it the last chance saloon for Francis Jeffers?
Francis Jeffers' career has been spiralling downhill ever
since it began. The once prodigious £9 million man finds himself battling constant
fitness issues to make the bench for Sheffield Wednesday. Perhaps now it is
last chance to save a career that promised so much potential.
Jeffers' has never reached his 'fox in the box' status after
bursting onto the scene with his boyhood club Everton. Scoring an impressive 18
goals in 49 appearances over a three-year spell saw Arsene Wenger take a keen
interest in him and he was subsequently sold.
At Arsenal, he was limited to 22 appearances whilst scoring
a mere four goals. He later had infamous spells with Charlton Athletic,
Rangers, Blackburn Rovers, and Ipswich Town before settling down with the Owls.
He joined Sheffield Wednesday for £700,000 last summer and
in that time he has only played 12 games and scoring two goals as numerous
injuries has hampered him making any real contribution.
Jeffers was brought to replace fans favourite Steve MacLean
as he moved on to Cardiff City before moving south to join Plymouth Argyle.
The current number 9 has been submitted too much criticism
resulting from his bad form and lack of goals. Wednesday fans believing Jeffers
lacks commitment and has no urge to regain a starting place.
His return to action this season resulted in a 25-minute
cameo substitute appearance in a 6-0 defeat to Reading, hardly making any
significant impact before making a ten-minute appearance against former club
For the England under 21's side, he scored 13 goals in 16
games, equalling Alan Shearer's record, making him hugely popular in the
England scene. Later making his one and only appearance for England against
Australia where he scored the only goal in the 3-1 defeat. A night fondly
remembered for Sven Goran Eriksson making 11 changes at half time, and the
introduction of a certain Wayne Rooney's international career.
He never had a chance again as Wenger lost faith in his ability,
he was quickly ushered out, and this damaged his reputation and more
importantly his confidence.
Injury has played a huge role in his mentality and with a
run of successive games, his confidence may build up and the Wednesday fans may
see some glimpses of that 'fox in the box' potential.
His approach play is still there and you cannot lose the
talent to score goals overnight therefore, he must have something. He can score
goals and can make a name for himself in the Championship but he needs to be
mentality and physically in a good shape to be a success.
Brian Laws has reinstated his frustration that Jeffers is
not match fit and the fact that he will not be for a while. Surely, it is up to
Jeffers to make sure his career does not look a big embarrassment and be
remembered as an expensive flop.