Nahki Wells struggling for opportunities at Bristol City
Bristol City striker Nahki Wells has struggled for playing time over the past two months, leading to speculation about his future at the club, as it grapples with mounting debt.
Wells, 31, has seen an average of 13 minutes of play in the team’s last seven Sky Bet Championship matches, stretching from November 6, 2021, compared to his average of 77 minutes in each of City’s previous seven matches, which suggests that the Bermuda international has fallen out of favour at Ashton Gate.
It is a reality that City’s manager Nigel Pearson has recognised.
“Well, Nahki’s not had many opportunities and that’s the bottom line,” said Pearson, while speaking to the Bristol Post ahead of the team's 3-2 win over Millwall on Sunday
Wells was brought on as a 90th-minute substitute in that match.
Over the last seven games, Bristol City have won three, lost three and drawn two matches, form that has them sitting 14th in the 24 team table.
Wells has so far contributed one goal and an assist in his 19 league appearances for City this season, leading to questions about his place in the club’s plans for the future.
Pearson lauded Wells’s attitude despite his limited minutes on the field and pointed to a general lack of goals within the entire squad as a major obstacle towards their objective this season.
“I have no qualms about playing Nahki. I think he’s been really positive around the place, we know he’s a good finisher,” said Pearson.
“We need goals from throughout the team. It’s not just about the strikers contributing.
“I think we need goals from midfield and we certainly need more goals from our defenders from set plays, too.
“It’s about being able to win games and it doesn’t matter who scores, really, but of course strikers very much measure themselves with their goal tally and that’s the sign of strikers who enjoy scoring goals.”
Wells has scored 17 goals and provided seven assists in his 87 matches for Bristol City since his arrival in January 2020.
Of note, Wells’s lone goal this season was a last-minute winner against his former team QPR in their meeting on September 18.
With Bristol City suffering a £38.4 million pre-tax loss, partly due to the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, Pearson admitted that drastic changes are needed and did not rule out parting ways with some players.
“I’ve been aware of exactly where we sit for a while,” he added. “It just means we have to be very mindful of how we manage the situation.
“I suppose in some ways, managing peoples’ expectations is always going to be one of the most difficult things, especially when we’re trying to go through a period where we’ve had a lot of change.
“On top of that, a squad which, as I’ve said many times already, had a lot of players coming out of contract.
“It’s a time of change, but what we can’t factor in is the impact that the pandemic has had.
“It may constrain how we actually manage to rebuild the squad, but we’ll do it in a way that’s in the best interests of everybody because the most important thing is we keep going as a football club and give our fans some hope moving forward, but we’re under no illusions. It’s going to be tough.
“We’re not actively looking to sell our most talented prospects, of course, and our owners’ vision for how we shape the club moving forward is that we have home-grown players.”
Wells has scored 81 goals and provided 27 assists in 292 matches in the Championship.