Sean Dyche insists striker Sam Vokes is “much more than a targetman’ after winning the SkyBet Championship player of the month award for March.
It is hoped Vokes, who has 14 goals to his name this season, will be fit to face Birmingham City at St Andrew’s tomorrow after picking up a groin problem in Saturday’s 1-0 win over Leeds United.
Dyche has been delighted with the way the Wales international has battled back to form and fitness after a cruciate knee ligament injury two years ago, and said: “I’ve never hidden the fact I want energy, physicality, physical prowess, in terms of running stats – I believe that improves players.
“He’s matured, and a lot of that is down to him. If you get told you’re a target man often enough, you start to think you’re just a targetman.
“We offered him more than that, and more again this season.
“He’s coming deeper and then joining in the frontline.
“He’s accepted that and got stronger and stronger with that, and still found the goals.
“He’s much more than just a targetman.
“If you’re tarred with that brush often enough, you start to believe it.
“When we got here, most people would say he was like a sub, and a targetman, but both those things have changed considerably.
“He still is a targetman, but has much more to his game than that, and he’s certainly not a sub.”
Vokes’ break came in the summer of 2013 when Charlie Austin was sold, and he made a first team place his own, scoring 21 goals in a 47-goal partnership with Danny Ings: “I think the big breakthrough was when I spoke with him when it looked like Charlie was definitely going, about the importance of finding himself within our unit, because he’d been nomadic – he’d been going everywhere, and nearly part of everything, without being quite part of something.
“I said ‘now is your chance’.
“He wasn’t sure where he fitted in or lived. I just made it clear, he lives here, and he can be a massive part of what we do.
“And I’m pleased to say he has been, and continues to be.
“I’m a great believer in – and it’s not psychological mumbo-jumbo – when you lose a player like that, it’s a fantastic chance for someone else to be their version of that player.
“Vokesy came in and said ‘alright’ and was really open-minded to it, and I’m delighted for him and us. Since then he’s just got stronger, even with a big knock.”