Lyndon Dykes: What QPR Can Expect
A few hours before Livingston's tough fixture against Rangers at the Tony Macaroni Arena, rumours started circulating around talisman Lyndon Dykes. It appeared that the Australian born striker was London bound, with the club accepting an offer of around £2m from English Championship side Queens Park Rangers and due to this, would be missing the clash against Steven Gerrard's men. Sadly for Livi fans, this would wind up being true, being announced shortly after Livi valiantly held on to draw 0-0 with the league's leaders.
Les Ferdinand had apparently been keeping tabs on the forward, reporting back to the London side following watching the Lions number 9 in action recently. Since arriving in West Lothian, Dykes has caught the eye of many, with Rangers legend Ally McCoist being a very vocal advocate of the striker and his form has put him in the frame for a potential international call-up, for either Australia or Scotland. The move to join up with Mark Warburton's side is undoubtedly a great move for his career, boosting his wages and the possibility of attracting suitors from the world's richest league and advancing furthermore being a tremendous lure.
There's no reason as to why Dykes can't be a success down south, proving himself more than well enough in his single season in the top flight of Scottish football. If he continues what he has shown so far, the 24-year-old will be a great addition for the Loftus Road side and could prove to be a bargain for £2m. But what kind of player is Dykes and what will he offer to Mark Warburton's side when the Championship restarts in (possibly) September?
Perhaps the most well-documented part of Dykes game is his physical presence mainly due to his performances against 9 in a row league winners Celtic. In Dykes' first game against Celtic and their new £7m, 6ft 4 centre half Christopher Jullien, Dykes absolutely dominated the centre half with Dykes scoring as the Lions recorded their first-ever win against the Glasgow giants. This ended up leading to the Frenchman taking to Twitter to apologise for his 'nervous' performance and thanking Dykes for a 'wake up call', with Jullien going on to have a solid season both domestically and in Europe. This would be until the two clashed again in the same fixture, with Jullien unable to match Dykes in battle yet again, this time Dykes leaving him for dead to set up Scott Robinson as the game ended up 2-2. These two games have led some to believe that Dykes has only had a handful of good games due to the way Scottish Football televises their games but one thing is for sure, Jullien and his Celtic teammates realised just how dangerous a threat Dykes could be and the Frenchman, in particular, will be happy to see the last of him.
Dykes also caught the eye from the blue half of Glasgow, with an impressive performance against Rangers in a lone role seeing the striker be a real hassle away from home. Dykes would be sent off in this game which completely turned the tide of the game, one that Livi were very much in due to Dykes performance. A few weeks later, Dykes would prove to be real problem against Rangers in a League Cup tie where a refereeing decision cost the Lions, this time failing to see a last-man foul by Filip Helander that would deny Livi's forward. Rangers' assistant manager Gary McAllister and BT Sport pundit Ally McCoist would heap the praise on Dykes afterwards, praising his physical presence and how he caused Rangers centre-halves problems the whole game.
In Scotland, it's often said that you are judged on your games against the Old Firm and the way fans talk up here, it is hard to argue against that. If you perform well against easily the league's highest earners and most valued players, then you must have something about you and Dykes has certainly shown he has plenty, managing to deal with the demands competing against top physical defenders and coming out on top.
To move away from his use of physicality against the Old Firm, Dykes' physique and stature is exactly what you would want from a centre forward, especially for in the English Championship. Dykes won't be easily ruffed up, proving to be very durable and always up for a tangle. At around 6ft 2, Dykes is a good match against centre-halves who look to dominate in the air with his height and leap. Having grown up in Australia, Dykes grew up playing Rugby League, he is certainly used to a rough style and making the most of his physical attributes.
With the frantic way the Championship schedule is, Dykes will not be one to worry about in terms of dealing with its demands. The game in Scotland is also played at a high pace so the jump shouldn't be too much for him, with much smaller players flourishing within the league recently.
Touch and Intelligence
Of course, Dykes' physicality is a big part of his game but he is A LOT better on the ball than people like to give him credit for. He uses his physicality for his gain but does in a way to bring others into the game. Whether bringing it down on his chest or delightfully flicking the ball to his teammates, Dykes is a master at plucking the ball out of the air and passing it onto his creative players and bursting into good positions. Livingston last season weren't blessed with great pace last season so Dykes would be unable to flick the ball on, knowing marauding runs would get onto the end of it. Due to this, Dykes would have to hold off defenders and showcase his ball control which is something he excels with, gaining lots of joy with the likes of Scott Pittman, Steven Lawless and Scott Robinson playing off him.
Dykes' reputation comes solely from the fact the majority of viewers in Scotland only see him against Celtic and Rangers, where chances are limited due to the two Glasgow side's expected dominance in pressure. For those who have actually taken the time to properly watch him, just as Les Ferdinand has done, you'll see there's a whole lot more than just a "battering ram".
What became most noticeable in Dykes' first season was how his match intelligence improved throughout the season and how that benefitted his game. Dykes was becoming a very clever player, exploiting spaces left by the opposition to the maximum, drifting out wide at times to receive and run onto the ball. With this, Dykes started to add assists to his game, reaping rewards for his intelligent runs and showcasing a good final product when taking on players and delivering into the box. For a striker of his size, Dykes possesses good pace that makes him a massive threat when running with the ball as defenders struggle to barge him out of possession. Through his time at Queen of the South, Dykes was often deployed on the wing to help provide for Stephen Dobbie which will have helped with his progression. Dykes is rarely static, especially in attack and will look to trouble teams whenever there is an opening, either to score for himself or in build-up play for others.
Scoring 12 goals and setting up 10 in 33 games is a great record and shows just how well Dykes made the jump up to the top flight, with his total of 14 league goals contributed (9 goals, 5 assists) was only bettered by players of Celtic, the team who scored a whopping 89 goals in 30 games. With this, Dykes almost contributes a goal or an assist every second game which is huge for a team like Livi, the second-lowest budgeted in the league.
The 12 goals he scored breaks down into 7 right footed finishes, 4 with his head and a single left-footed strike that came against Ross County where he completed a perfect hat-trick. Most of his finishes are one touch, showing great instinct within the box, whether on the deck or in the air. Dykes' finishes show he is deadly within the box and will punish teams should he get the right opportunity, meaning he'll be looking to capitalise on crosses and cutbacks in dangerous areas. Recently he's become reliable as a penalty taker, scoring two already this season for the Lions before setting off to London.
As for assists, the aforementioned runs down wide saw the forward add to his tally, with his pace and strength causing great trouble and also being able to pick out a teammate at the right moment. Strikers are usually credited based on their scoring alone but it certainly doesn't hurt Dykes that he makes great contributions to the team even if he is off-target himself.
An off-field one here but Dykes is a great character to have around the club. Always smiling and laughing, Dykes' presence has brought a great feeling to the club both on and off the pitch. Showcasing a bright and energetic personality off the pitch, Dykes will be a boost within the changing rooms and around the club in all aspects. The Australian will surely become a fans favourite with his persona and interviews and colourful hairstyles that seems to wind oppositions fans up a bit too much. He's the kind of player you absolutely adore if he plays for your team and despise if he is against you, a great compliment for any footballer.
His time at Livi has been a great success even despite the short nature of his stay, he leaves a legend playing a big role in the club's first win over Celtic and the club's second-highest ever league finish. He will also now leave as the club's record sale, a massive £2 million that will do wonders for the club, the wage budget for the squad last season came in at around £1.4 million.
Lyndon leaves Livingston with the best wishes from the club and is supporters with the hopes that he will be a great success down in England. It can be assured that the Lions faithful and fans of Scotland will be keeping an eye out for the striker and hope he grasps this opportunity with both hands. He can be a great asset in England and just goes to show what can happen when you apply yourself properly and take advantage of your opportunities. Always welcome at the Tony Macaroni Arena, as assistant manager David Martindale stated in the club announcement, "go and smash it big man!".