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“I’m here for a reason and that’s to improve my game and help the team I’m with move up the league, and score some goals. I’m here until the end of January at the moment, so I’ll do my job until I know what I’m doing next.”

Wood has “no idea” where he’ll be come the new year. On prompting, he admits it’s easier to deal with uncertainty when you’re scoring goals.

He slotted six in his first nine games at the club, including a hat-trick in a 3-3 draw against his mates at Birmingham City.

He feels settled for the first time in a while, and says he would quite like a longer stay at Millwall should the powers that be choose that route.

“It seems to have all worked out for everybody, so I don’t see why not,” he says. “At the moment I’m just keeping focused and trying to do the right job.”

Millwall has been travelling well since he arrived.

They were in 10th spot on the table before this weekend, four points from the coveted Premier League play-off spots – and Wood’s talking like a Lion, even if he isn’t one officially.

“It’s a very tight league, a few wins and you can be up near the top of the table, which would be great, but a few losses and you can be down the bottom,” he says.

At the very least, he has the fans in his corner.

“Woody’s class, he’s got everything, we love him here,” lifetime ‘Wall’ fan Mike Kirk says.

“We’d love him to stay but I’d be surprised if we could keep him – we won’t be able to afford him.”

Millwall fans have been associated with the negative side of what happens in the terraces of English football.

Careful not to get the young Kiwi in trouble less than a month before his 21st birthday, TNT asks him in his capacity as a journeyman if they’re more “passionate” than other fans.

“Passionate, that’s a great way to describe them,” he says, adding all he can see and hear in the crowd at any club is motivation.

“They really give you something to play for, more than usual, especially away from home and you see the ones who travel. It really spurs you on … it’s why you play.”

NZ’s premier league path: It’s not paved with goals

When Chris Wood became the sixth New Zealander to play in the EPL for West Brom in 2009, he was also the first ever striker from his country to make the leap.

Five defensive players, including two currently, came before ‘Woody’, starting with Lee Norfolk, whose Ipswich Town run lasted three games in the 1995/96 season.

Danny Hay’s stint was similarly unremarkable, mainly due to his struggle to stay on the field for Leeds with injuries in 2000/01 – he played just four games.

Defensive-midfielder Simon Elliott fared better at Fulham, after being scouted in the US.

He appeared 13 times for the Whites in 2006, but struggled with injury.

Wood’s All Whites teammates Winston Reid (46 games for West Ham) and NZ skipper Ryan Nelson (184 matches at Blackburn, Spurs and now QPR), however, are regular fixtures at the back in their sides.

When Wood climbs back to the top league, as he is tipped to, a goal-scoring record will be his – he’ll need 12 to net more than every Kiwi EPL player combined.

 

Photos: Getty


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Flying Kiwi: Footballer Chris Wood is doing the land of the long white cloud proud
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