Willie Kirk will have his work cut out for him to keep the Foxes up this season. The squad doesn’t have much depth, and now have been hit with injuries. Confirmed injuries to Josie Green and Ashleigh Plumptre add to the long-term injuries of Jess Sigsworth and Lachante Paul, piling on to current woes. It’s not clear on how serious injuries to Green and Plumptre are, fingers crossed nothing too serious. It appears that McManus, O’Brien, and Simon have all acquired short term injuries, but look to be back in action come the new year. Hannah Cain is back from an ACL injury, so her inclusion will slowly progress over the remainder of the season.
Leicester sits at the bottom of the table having played nine league matches with no points from any match. Only two goals have been scored for the Foxes, with one an own goal from Tottenham. Scoring goals is an Achilles heel for Leicester, placing them at the bottom of the table for goals fielded as well. While Everton only has five goals, the remaining clubs all have 10 or more for the season. The Foxes are the lowest for total xG at 3.9 (next lowest is Everton at 5.7), and lowest when comparing goals to xG at -2.9 (the next worse is Everton at -0.7). When they get chances in front of the net, Leicester aren’t finishing them.
Outside of the battle between Leicester and Everton to see who is worse at scoring, what can Kirk do? He still faces the same problem as Bedford and does not seem to have an answer with the existing squad. Flint and O’Brien aren’t scoring, nor creating many opportunities. Whelan seemed promising to contribute a goal here and there from the midfield, as her last two seasons at Brighton she scored 4 goals per season with a shot on target percentage of 35%/33%. Her spell at Leicester so far has seen 10 shots, with only 2 on target (20%) and zero goals, so another dead end for Kirk. Jones, Goodwin, and Baker have the potential but are all teenagers still developing. That’s a big ask of three teenagers to save the season when more experienced teammates aren’t stepping up.
This January transfer window the bosses at Leicester can’t afford to be cheap. If a capable goal scorer or shot creator isn’t brought in, the chances of the Foxes staying up get only bleaker. Here are some possible forwards for Leicester to buy or get on loan this January window. Are these realistic? Most aren’t, but if you don’t ask the answer is always no. The 2023 Women’s World Cup is around the corner and Leicester should capitalize on fringe players trying to secure spots for their national teams.
Jakobsson is an experienced Swedish player who currently plays for the San Diego Wave. At 31 her playing time with the national team has been reduced, and while she’s very likely to make Sweden’s squad her starting position is not so certain. She only scored one goal in 17 matches (12 starts) but had three assists. She poses an attacking threat in any match she plays and would be an experienced player for the youngsters to learn some tricks. She gets game time during the NWSL off season, and Leicester get a few goals. It’s a win-win.
This young English national (21 years old) is one to keep an eye on for the World Cup next summer. She plays for the Houston Dash currently with nine goals and an xG of 4.1 in the 2022 season. She had two assists in England’s most recent friendly against Japan. Would Leicester go in for a loan? It would give her the opportunity to play on English soil and impress Wiegman. Her chances of making the squad have risen with the long-term injury to Beth Mead, but she is still behind Chloe Kelly and Nikita Parris for a position on one of the wings. A pairing of Salmon and Carrie Jones up top would be exciting, with Jones able to do the work to create space and get off passes into the box. She’s been missing someone as dynamic as Salmon this season.
Currently a center forward with the Washington Spirit in the NWSL, she’s another player fighting for a World Cup spot behind a long line of talent. She has 12 caps for the USWNT with four goals and one assist. For her club she had nine goals (xG 7.7) in 2022 and ten goals (xG 8.0) in 2021. She knows how to score, and how to score against some of the best defenders in women’s football. At a little over 5’8” she could be a target in the air for Purfield’s crosses. She’s in line behind Alex Morgan and Mal Pugh for the national team, so keeping her match fitness going into the She Believes Cup can only help her chances of showing Vlatko she deserves to go to New Zealand/Australia.
Margaret (Midge) Purce
Her past season with Gotham FC in the NWSL wasn’t great, but that is more reflective of the club’s performance and inner turmoil than hers. She had three goals and three assists in 2022 for Gotham, but she had nine goals and one assist in 2021. She has been deployed all over the pitch, but predominantly and most successfully is utilized as a right winger or central striker. Purce is a compact player who creates space and opportunity off the dribble. She has 20 caps for USWNT and at 27 will need to start kicking into gear if she wants a place at the World Cup. With the environment at Gotham FC dressing room a seemingly toxic one, Leicester could be her redemption story.
All of the above were pulled from the NWSL, as the season ended in October and these should be players eager to get game time and an edge on their national team counter parts.