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Oli McBurnie Now The Swans’ Main Man As Wilfried Bony Is Wrapped, Boxed, And Ready For Export

As night follows day, Oli McBurnie keeps being picked by Swansea City manager Graham Potter and the Scotland striker keeps scoring.

Potter could easily have chosen to rest his top marksman with a key Championship match at home to Birmingham City on Tuesday night.

Instead, to the satisfaction of the club’s supporters and FA Cup traditionalists everywhere, McBurnie played and scored twice as the Swans beat Gillingham 4-1 at the Liberty Stadium.

Everyone loves a Cup upset, but when the giant-killing tie is chiefly the result of an under-strength giant then the romance is not as it was in years gone by when rotation was strictly for crop farmers.

Potter may be a very modern manager in much of his language, but he seems to deeply respect the FA Cup and the reward is that the Swans are into the last 16 for the second successive season.

McBurnie has now played some part in 28 of the Swans’ 31 matches so far this season, scored 13 goals, and Potter says: “He’s always been hungry, always tries his best and gives his lot for the team.

“We forget it’s his first season as a full-team player and he had only half a season at Barnsley.

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“He leads the line here, which is a big responsibility for a young player. He is developing all the time, he still has got a lot to do, but he has a knack of scoring.”

Potter insists the club have not had bids from others for McBurnie but adds: “Regardless of the Oli McBurnie situation, I’ll be glad when the transfer window closes.

“As a coach you want to get everything set, know what’s happening and talk about football.

It was McBurnie who made sure Steve Lovell’s hopes of a sunny Swansea homecoming turned into a wet weekend in Wales.

The striker had already scored twice before the tide really went out on the Gills’ FA Cup hopes with second-half goals from Bersant Celina – a belter – and Barrie McKay.

Josh Rees gave Lovell’s men brief hope for a time when he made it 2-1 but former Wales striker Lovell – who grew up in Swansea – admitted it was a wash-out in the driving rain after they had dumped Cardiff City out in the previous round.

Even the prospect of his mum’s home-cooking was proving difficult to stomach after this heavy defeat to a slick and smooth running Swansea.

“My plan was to go home for my mum’s cooking, but I don’t know if she’ll feed me after that result!” said Lovell.

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“It won’t be such a happy evening but I’m sure we’ll have a few stories and tales about the game.

“My mum’s a Swansea supporter so thinking about it, she may give me a bit more. Whatever she cooks I’ll eat it as I do as I’m told – even at my age!”

Even in the damp, the Swans were cooking on gas by half-time and had one foot in the fifth round for a second successive season – the first time they have managed that feat since the mid-60s.

McKay had already struck the post by the time McBurnie planted a header home for the opening goal after 10 minutes after being found by Leroy Fer’s pinpoint cross.

Soon after he drilled a low shot past Tomas Holy for his 13th goal of the season and fifth in three games.

With his kids’ size socks and flapping shin pads, McBurnie looks like an FA Cup hero from yesteryear and his form is the club’s best hope of reaching the Championship play-offs.

Wilfried Bony suggested he might fill that role at the start of the season, but his contribution has been meagre and now it appears the Swans’ can’t wait to sell him.

A number of clubs in Turkey and Qatar are keen and Potter admitted he left Bony out in case he got injured and became damaged goods.

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“Injury is a consideration,” conceded Potter. “Wilf has been great with us and perfect with the group and he wanted to be involved.

“But in the previous round, Courtney Baker-Richardson scored against Aston Villa and Oli’s been playing well for us, so when you add everything up it didn’t seem necessary to have him in the squad.”

After Rees made it 2-1 with a clever header, Celina struck a beauty from 25 yards in the 73rd minute and then McKay swept in the fourth from Daniel James’ cross.

“It got a bit nervy, but overall, after the third goal went in, which was a fantastic strike, it became a little bit easier for us,” added Potter.

“It’s a pleasing afternoon, because strange things happen in this competition and it’s nice for us that we’re through to the next round.

“We spoke about it briefly, the beauty of the competition is the upsets and we’re not so good to think that sort of thing won’t happen.”


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