Huddersfield Town v Blackburn Rovers: Town wary as Rhodes makes return

Jordan Rhodes
Jordan Rhodes
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AS Jordan Rhodes tonight prepares to make his first return to Huddersfield Town since his £8m departure, Peter Clarke feels only Robbie Fowler comes close to his former team-mate in terms of being a natural-born finisher.

But the Terriers captain is also at pains to stress that the focus has to be on stopping the entire Blackburn Rovers attack and not just the striker who plundered 40 goals for the Yorkshire club last season.

“The majority of the talk in the build-up will be about Jordan,” said Clarke about 22-year-old Rhodes, who is set to face his old club for the first time since the August move that took him across the Pennines.

“We understand that and I hope he gets a fantastic reception because he was a good servant to this club and scored a lot of important goals.

“We will always be eternally grateful to Jordan for that. But he has now moved on to another club and, as professionals, we hope he leaves (tonight) having drawn a blank.

“Jordan is a very clinical finisher and is very calm when it comes to finishing.

“He has a very happy knack of scoring goals so we will have to keep an eye on him.

“But, equally, Blackburn have a lot of quality players and we will have to be on top of our game.

“Blackburn have a lot of players who were in the Premier League as recently as last May. Jordan is the most obvious connection between the two clubs but we will be up against a lot of good players.

“That is what we have worked on – Blackburn as a whole and a collective.

“Nothing specific has been said about Jordan, though we all know we have to make sure that he is closely marked and not given too much room to do what he wants to do.”

Rhodes scored 87 goals in 145 appearances for Town after joining from Ipswich in the summer of 2009.

Since moving to Ewood Park, the Scotland international has found the net five times in 11 starts and will fancy his chances of adding to that tally tonight against his former club.

Asked by the Yorkshire Post who Rhodes most reminded him of in terms of strikers he had played with or against, Clarke replied: “I would say Robbie Fowler, in terms of when he first came on the scene and almost passed the ball into the net.

“Jordan was never rash or someone to lash at things. Like Fowler, he almost caressed the ball into the goal.

“When he first arrived at Huddersfield, Jordan wasn’t long out of youth football. But you could see he had great natural ability and his hard work on the training ground improved him.

“He developed physically and also learned over time what senior football was all about.”

Like Clarke, manager Simon Grayson is hoping Rhodes is given a warm welcome ahead of the game before his side look to leapfrog Blackburn and into the top six.

He said: “We have seen him down at our training ground, to be honest, in recent weeks. He still pops in for a game of snooker with the lads.

“That says a lot about the lad and how he likes to come back. Jordan is a fantastic lad to work with but he got his opportunity to move.

“I wasn’t planning for life without Jordan in the summer but I also did have to make sure we were covered if he did leave.

“The decision was always going to be Jordan’s if our valuation was met. Once he went, we moved to bring Jermaine (Beckford) in as a replacement.

“The football club has moved on as we have brought other players in.

“I think it is testament to those lads that people haven’t talked too much about missing Jordan Rhodes.

“The amount of goals he scored means any team would miss him. But the fans are now talking about Beckford, (James) Vaughan, (Lee) Novak, (Sean) Scannell and (Adam) Hammill more than they are Jordan. That is credit to those lads.”

Rhodes’s replacement, Beckford, is a doubt tonight with a hamstring injury, while Vaughan could also again be absent with a thigh strain.

Grayson, again without the suspended Jack Hunt, will give the strike duo as long as possible to prove their fitness but admits he also has one eye on the weekend trip to Barnsley.

He said: “We will see where we are before the game but we won’t push either Jermaine or Vaughany because there are a lot of games coming up in a quick period of time.

“Hopefully, they will be fit as it will increase our options. But if they aren’t then we go with the same squad as beat Bristol City on Saturday.”

Last six games: Huddersfield Town LWWLLW, Blackburn Rovers DLDWWL.

Last time: Huddersfield Town 0 Blackburn Rovers 1; October 28, 2000; Division One.

Referee: R East (Wiltshire).