Football: Hristov the struggling striker still in favour

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The Independent Online
THE BARNSLEY manager, Danny Wilson, has no doubts that his striker Georgi Hristov will eventually deliver the goods. The Macedonia international has endured a difficult first season in the Premiership since arriving from Partizan Belgrade last summer.

Much was expected of Barnsley's record pounds 1.5m signing, who first sprang to prominence when scoring the winner against the Republic of Ireland in a World Cup qualifying match a year ago. So far, Hristov has failed to live up to those expectations and has scored only four goals as team put up a brave fight for survival.

He has not been able to hold down a regular place in the Barnsley attack and did little to boost his popularity when criticising the club and town in an interview given in his homeland.

In a 2-1 defeat against Blackburn Rovers on Tuesday that left Barnsley third from bottom, Hristov demonstrated just how infuriating he can be as he wasted a glorious chance in the opening minutes then squandered further opportunities before finishing with great aplomb for Barnsley's equaliser.

Wilson admits Hristov has not scored as many goals as he would have liked, but still has faith in him. He feels he has had problems adjusting to his new life and believes he will eventually prosper.

"We had a clear-cut chance early on against Blackburn with Georgi but he miscontrolled it," Wilson said. "But I feel Georgi's always capable of scoring goals. Obviously he's not got the ratio of goals we'd like at this stage of the season. But people keep forgetting he's 22 years old, he's in a foreign country and has a lot of settling in to do.

"I'll be very patient with him as I think he could be a big asset for us in the next year or two if he can fulfil the potential we feel he has." In a reference to Barnsley's plight in the bottom three, Wilson added: "Unfortunately in the Premiership, you don't have time to wait."

The Aston Villa striker Stan Collymore is set to be out of action for a further three weeks after having a cortisone injection to try and cure his groin problem. The Villa manager, John Gregory, admitted that the most "realistic" comeback date would be the home Premiership game against Bolton on 25 April. "The specialist has said that Stan can't do anything for 10 days," Gregory said.