Scunthorpe United: Brian Laws preparing for life after Leon Clarke
Leon Clarke is a striker absolutely on fire. Right foot, left foot, with his head, from the spot; the goals just keep coming.
Good for Scunthorpe United's points tally; not so good for their prospects of hanging on to the Charlton Athletic loanee.
A man in red hot form is also red hot property.
Iron boss Brian Laws is clinging on to any small shred of hope that Clarke may stick around at Glanford Park, but admits he is mostly clutching at straws.
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Consequently, United are having to prepare for life after Leon.
Laws concedes the 27-year-old is pretty much ‘an exception’ among loan front men, though will surely hope new recruit Nathan Ellington can quickly prove him wrong.
The 31-year-old has been handed the task of stepping into Clarke’s shoes, having signed until January 5 from Ipswich Town.
Ellington has made just 19 appearances for the Tractor Boys since joining in summer 2011. Replacing the irreplaceable will not be easy, but the Scunthorpe manager explains he was always going to have to look for someone who has not been in the spotlight.
"The thing we've got to be aware of is there ain't going to be another Leon Clarke out there who's in form and who's banging goals left, right and centre because if they are they're in somebody's first-team," said Laws.
"Leon is an exception.
"He's fallen out with the club and the manager and therefore they want him to leave.
"But we know he's going to score goals in this division.
"There isn't anybody out there like that in those circumstances, so we know whoever we bring in is not going to be in form like Leon is.
"No-one's going to let a goalscorer leave their football club, absolutely no question about it.
"We have to find somebody who is probably having a bad time, but who we know, with his record, his personality and what he could bring to the club, that we might be able to spark it.
"That's what we've had to look at - somebody who's not firing, but who we can spark up when he gets here.
"You've always got a positive thing that we can throw at a potential player.
"You look at the history in the last decade, any player who's come here and scored goals has gone on and done really well.
"It's been a phenomenal place to be for strikers.
"We've got a great history to pick out strikers, score goals and move on.
"It's a great flag to fly."
The Iron have four more games to make the most of Clarke's uncanny ability to find the net, with his loan running out on December 8.
Unable to extend that spell any further, they would have to wait until January to make another move - knowing full well there is likely to be clubs lining up to capture the former Sheffield Wednesday forward on a full-time basis.
Having been told there is no future for him with the Addicks, the new year will be key for Clarke.
"He's going to definitely be leaving Charlton, for sure, and I would guess it would be more of a permanent deal than a loan deal," said Laws.
"I think it's more difficult for us because there are teams, I'm sure, queuing out the door.
"Everybody's craving for an in form striker who's available and probably costs you next to nothing in terms of putting a fee on his head.
"Certainly, his value, wages wise, is exceptionally good, so he'll probably have a lot of choices.
"We will try, make no mistake we will have a go.
"It's probably going to be highly unlikely, but I think it's worth having a go. At least if we try, you never know.
"We'll speak to his agent, speak to Leon and see what comes out of it."
In the meantime, Laws is determined not to dwell on his star striker's imminent departure.
Clarke already has 10 goals in 12 games for United - the latest a brace at Coventry City last week; a phenomenal strike rate which puts him joint-top of the League One scoring list.
And the manager hopes there is a few more to come yet.
"In my mind, we've got to really be positive about it and say, 'right, while Leon's here, we've got four more games with him, grab hold of his shirt tail, hopefully he'll score the goals for us to win games'," said Laws.
"He suits the style we're playing and I think he's enjoying that. He's enjoying his football here, he likes it here.
"He's enjoyed the link-up with Karl Hawley as well; he's been another exceptionally good player and they look like they've been playing together for years.
"Leon will get goals in this division, he's proving that.
"We've said, looking at all the stats, the number of shots Scunthorpe have created for him, he's had very little yet his ratio is phenomenal.
"That's why it's going to be even more difficult to keep hold of him because he's hot property."