Everton set sights on Kiwi striker Chris Wood

Wood is one of three players shortlisted for the prestigious prize, alongside Newcastle United's Dwight Gayle and Brighton's Anthony Knockaert, after firing his way to 27 goals for Leeds.

Speculation surrounding the move has been swirling throughout media outlets in England, where Wood - who is now part of the All Whites camp for their World Cup qualifiers against Fiji - plays for EFL Championship side Leeds United.

The Daily Express picked up the story and speculated Everton - ranked seventh in the EPL - might have to pay Leeds £14.6m (NZ$26m) for Wood, who cost £2.5m (NZ$4.4m) when signed from Leicester City in 2015.

The 27-goal striker missed today's global fixture in Wellington with a knock sustained in New Zealand's 2-0 win over Fiji on Saturday.

Gayle, a £10million arrival from Crystal Palace in the summer, has been a revelation since signing on the dotted line for United.

The club are fourth in the division with their season set to resume away at Reading on Saturday and Garry Monk's squad moved onto 69 points with a 2-0 win over second-placed Brighton last weekend.

Wood is bidding to become the first Leeds player to win the Championship's player-of-the-year award since the prize was established in 2006.

Wood was hurt by a heavy challenge towards the end of that victory - a game in which he scored - and was sent back to England as the All Whites prepared to continue their qualifying campaign.

The annual EFL awards will take place on Sunday, April 9, in London, around 24 hours after United's trip to Sheffield Wednesday.

As a precaution, New Zealand boss Anthony Hudson has said he will not risk Wood for Tuesday's return fixture.

  • Julie Sanders