Nahki Wells is a class act but Tommy Conway and Sam Bell are the future of Bristol City

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Robins are blessed with striking riches beyond their potent first-choice Championship trident, both old and new.

Without doubt there will be interest in Bristol City forward Nahki Wells this summer.

A ludicrous suggestion by an annonymous EFL account on social media linked the striker to League One clubs Burton and Fleetwood Town this week.

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Neither club are interested in the Robins striker, who continues to find it hard to push past Nigel Pearson’s preferred attacking trio of Andi Weimann, Antoine Semenyo and Chris Martin. Though to be fair to the manager, only six teams scored more than the West Country outfit’s 62 goals netted in 2021/22 - and three of those will be promoted and leaving the division.

Wells has had to bide his time for opportunities this season. In the league he received just 1,194 minutes of playing time, equivalent to under a third of the season. Ten starts in the league, and two more in the cups.

But off the pitch he remains such a credit to the club, asking to play in the U23s matches, excelling in those games when topping up his minutes and encouraging his team-mates along.

Wells is a constant sight at U23s games. In fact, we’ve seen more him than any other senior player watching on, even if he wasn’t involved himself.

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The Bermudian routinely takes interest and is spotted geeing up the young players or watching from the sidelines.

Bristol City are blessed in their front line options, so enjoy these times if you’re a red. No longer is there a need for the man “to stick the ball in the back of the net” as Pearson requested last summer. He was there all along in 22-goal Weimann.

But to what extent are the first-choice three pushed to their best by what is behind them spurring them on, ie Wells and also City’s two young rapier-like forwards Sam Bell and Tommy Conway?

If we’re selfish, to keep Wells for the last year of his contract would continue to see the Robins hold excellent depth in attack. The 31-year-old is rarely injured and always offers a threat, even if he has not been as prolific over the last two seasons as he would have liked, unable to match the 20 goals netted across the season in the year he signed at Ashton Gate.

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Wells’ availability is excellent. He played in every single league game in 2020/21 when almost every other Bristol City player was injured at some stage, as Dean Holden began the season in charge, but Pearson ended it.

This year, he featured another 34 times across all competitions, even if he was often on the bench.

“I want to try and have as good a career as possible. I know I have so much more football to play,” he told the media last month.

“I’m quite comfortable in how well I have done in my career up until this date, but I’m still ambitious.

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Nahki Wells wants to play in the Premier League and says he is happy at Bristol City. (Photo by Cameron Smith/Getty Images)Nahki Wells wants to play in the Premier League and says he is happy at Bristol City. (Photo by Cameron Smith/Getty Images)
Nahki Wells wants to play in the Premier League and says he is happy at Bristol City. (Photo by Cameron Smith/Getty Images) | Getty Images

On his future he added that: “My main focus is to continue for Bristol City. We know football and how things change and if there is a change in the management’s approach, then of course we can look at other opportunities,” he said in April.

“I love it here, I’m still driven and I love working with the manager. I had a chat with him today and put a smile on my face and told me what I wanted to hear as a person,” he explained recently.

And the relationship is reciprocated. Nigel Pearson has played down talk of a move this summer.

“I look at somebody like Nahki Wells this year and he’s been brilliant,” said Pearson ahead of the recent Hull game.

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“How he’s kept himself going. You watch him train, ‘wow’... different class, really good. I know that when he’s required he’ll go out and do the job we want him to do.

“But he wants to play regularly. If he’s here next year then I’m really happy to have him. Really happy to have him,” added Pearson, advising the media against speculating that Wells might be on the move this summer, as someone the club wishes to offload.

(Lee Johnson was equally impressed by Wells in training incidentally, calling him the best natural finisher he had ever seen at the club.)

BristolWorld understands that the player and his family are settled in the South West and that while more starts would be appealing, all parties are relaxed on the situation.

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Cardiff and Swansea tried to recruit the player last January but the Robins were not minded to help the neighbours. QPR tried to buy the forward back last summer before they brought in Andre Gray but a deal was not feasible.

There may be interest again, and why should there not be when Wells has shown that he can be one of the leading marksmen in the division, hitting double figures for goals in the two seasons previous to the last?

As for City the seam of striking talent goes further. If Wells has not been scoring for the PDL2 final making development squad, then Conway and Bell have been.

Taunton-born Conway, who shares a flat with City midfielder Alex Scott, has netted 10 goals in 12 second string appearances this term.

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Conway has explained previously that he is keen not to waste a day as he looks to carve out his career. He studies clips of Harry Kane and idolised Robin van Persie as an Arsenal-supporting youngster and hopes to exhibit similar high-level finishing traits.

He is set to lead the line in Tuesday’s PDL2 final at Ashton Gate with Sam Bell, who himself has netted 10 goals in 15.

Bell will know much from his father, even being given some last-minute schooling on defence from father Micky ahead of Sam playing wing-back unexpectedly in the first XI this season.

While the academy pair have had to be patient for first-team chances this season, their manager regards them as bonafide senior squad players, and senior action has come on occasion: six appearances for Conway in 2021/22 and four for Bell, after a loan to Grimsby.

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Bell’s constant energy and electric movement signal him out as a prospect, while Conway’s expert finishing and neat footwork suggest he could be a serious player for Bristol City in the years to come.

“I think Tommy Conway and Sam Bell is a partnership that potentially we’ll see up front for Bristol City,” explained head of the academy Brian Tinnion of the pair to the 3 Peaps in a Podcast podcast at the weekend (a must-listen).

“They’ve played for the U13s and U14s and all the way up and they’ve terrorised teams, and scored bucket loads of goals. Hopefully when they mature - at 22 like Antoine - we’ll see an exciting strike partnership,” added Tinnion, who explained that both players - like many youngsters at City - have excellent character to go with their physical and technical abilities.

But City’s goal-getters go further.

Even U18s talent Seb Palmer-Holden has banged in more than 22 goals at all levels too, including for the U23s this campaign.

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When did the Robins become so sharp in attack all across the club? While the club’s fine attacking resources contrast to Pearson’s defensive past, City supporters should make the most of these fruitful months, and maybe even years, and enjoy the goals, goals, goals.

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