Swansea City boss backs Danny Graham to lead the line
MICHAEL Laudrup believes Danny Graham can lead the way for Swansea City when they kick off the new Premier League season at Queens Park Rangers.
Laudrup has stressed the need to add extra firepower to the Swansea squad ever since taking the reins at the Liberty back in June.
But Graham served up a reminder that there is already attacking talent on the staff in SA1 by netting a hat-trick in Tuesday night's friendly win over Blackpool.
Swansea's record signing now has four pre-season goals to his credit and, despite the imminent arrival of Itay Shechter, looks a shoo-in to start at Loftus Road a week on Saturday.
And Laudrup admits he has been impressed by Graham's contribution thus far.
"I can see that he loves scoring goals," said the Swansea manager.
"The three he got against Blackpool were all very different, but all three were in the box.
"He is a real goal-getter.
"The first goal against Blackpool was very skilful, the second was a great goal because he waited and made a turn when a lot of people would have shot first time.
"And for the third he went into see what would happen and he ended up with a goal.
"Forwards live for goals, and to get three in the first home game — even if it was only a friendly — will give him great confidence.
"It's also nice for the rest of the team to see their centre-forward working well.
"The goals will give Danny confidence, but they will also give the rest of the team confidence as well."
After a few weeks where he stressed that everyone would be given a chance to impress, Laudrup's Swansea side is beginning to take shape.
There are still adjustments to be made, with the Dane still active in the transfer market with around three weeks of the summer window remaining.
Swansea welcomed back their trio of Olympians to training yesterday, and all three could see some action when Laudrup's men host Stuttgart this weekend.
Youngster Ben Davies has had an encouraging pre-season, but it will be a major surprise if Neil Taylor is not at left-back at QPR.
Ashley Williams will be joined in the centre of defence by summer recruit Chico Flores, while Angel Rangel will be on the right flank of Laudrup's back four.
Things get a little more interesting in midfield.
As things stand, the smart money is on Leon Britton teaming up with new boys Jonathan de Guzman and Michu in a central trio, although where Joe Allen fits in should he still be around is a question Laudrup must answer.
It may be, of course, that there is a new midfielder — Bolton's Mark Davies for instance — on the scene by then.
In attack, Graham will surely be Swansea's spearhead with Nathan Dyer on the right flank and either Scott Sinclair or Wayne Routledge on the opposite wing.
"We have three Olympic players to come back in, but of course we are beginning to see what I feel is the best side at this moment," Laudrup added.
"I would be lying if I said I still don't know what the team is and that everything is open — everyone can see which players have played a lot of minutes in the last two games.
"But I wouldn't say the 11 starters for QPR are ready because we still have the three players to come back in."
Laudrup stressed that Garry Monk, Mark Gower, Andrea Orlandi and Stephen Dobbie were all carrying minor knocks in midweek, and that every senior player who was fit was involved.
But it seems that quartet can hope for a place on the bench at QPR at best.
Laudrup's new signings, by contrast, all look like certainties to start in West London.
"I signed these players because I think they will fit into this team," he pointed out. "Chico was strong and fast and showed a fantastic attitude (against Blackpool). He has a very good partnership with Ashley.
"Jonathan I think will fit perfectly into the way we play and Michu is someone who can play as the third midfielder or the second striker. He works hard, but he also gets into the box so our striker is not left alone.
"I am happy with all three of the new players."