Leicester City keen for Chris Wood to stay

ON TARGET: Leicester City's Chris Wood celebrates after scoring a goal against Everton.
ON TARGET: Leicester City's Chris Wood celebrates after scoring a goal against Everton.

Leicester City manager Nigel Pearson swears All Whites striker Chris Wood will be staying in the Premier League after scoring the vital equaliser in their first-round match yesterday.

The 22-year-old, who had been subject to pre-season transfer speculation, came off the bench to sweep home a loose ball four minutes from fulltime and score his first EPL goal and earn newly promoted Leicester a 2-2 draw with Everton at Leicester's Kingpower Stadium.

Wood had been at the centre of reports he was set to leave Leicester before the season had even started.

A queue of six Championship (second-tier) clubs were sniffing around him with Wolverhampton Wanderers having a $2.5 million bid rejected by both Wood and his club.

But the Waikato man was named in Leicester's match-day squad and took the field in the 78th minute for his first premier league game since his debut season with West Bromwich Albion as a 17-year-old in 2009.

Wood was praised by the English football media for his "smartly taken finish" in the 86th minute when he brought the 31,000-strong Leicester crowd to their feet with the equaliser in the club's first premiership match for 10 years.

Pearson later insisted Wood was not for sale.

"He's staying. I've spoken to Chris on a couple of occasions this week and he is happy to stay," Pearson told The Guardian's Football Unlimited website.

"It can be unsettling for any individual to be involved in speculation about his future but I'm very pleased he was able to play his part in securing our first Premier League point of the season."

Wood, who slipped his shot past Everton keeper and United States World Cup hero Tim Howard, was delighted with the team's performance.

"Great fight from the lads coming [back] twice," he said on Twitter. "Good point and something to build on for [next] week.

"Very happy with my first Premier League goal."

His goal was welcomed on a Leicester media website with one observer commenting that Everton's England World Cup centre back Phil Jagielka "won't forgot [Wood] in a hurry".

All Whites captain Winston Reid tasted EPL defeat when West Ham United lost 1-0 to London rivals Tottenham Hotspur after Eric Dier's injury-time goal. West Ham's Mark Noble missed a penalty and both teams finished the game with 10 men after Kyle Naughton (Spurs) and James Collins (West Ham) were shown red cards.

Meanwhile, teenage All Whites winger Ryan Thomas scored in Dutch first division action. Thomas slid a shot past the FC Dordrecht keeper to put PEC Zwolle 1-0 up in the 40th minute and set up their 2-1 win. But Thomas, who scored twice when Zwolle upset Ajax to win last season's Dutch Cup final, is in a race against time to be fit for the first Uefa Europa League game in the club's history, at home against Czech Republic club Sparta Prague on Thursday.

The 19-year-old twisted his foot in the turf and received another knock which forced him off the field in the 56th minute. Fairfax NZ

The Press