BLACKBURN Rovers boss Gary Bowyer has challenged Todd Kane to make the right-back position his own after Adam Henley was ruled out for the rest of the campaign.
Henley will not feature in any of the final 10 games after he became the eighth Rovers player this season to suffer an ankle injury when he was stretchered off in Saturday’s 1-1 draw with league leaders Leicester City.
Bowyer, whose side head to Watford tonight, is disappointed to lose the services of 19-year-old Henley but sees it as an opportunity for Kane to stake his claim.
“We’ve had Todd all season and now it’s a chance for him to cement that position and show that he is a good player,” said Bowyer, who may look for defensive cover in the loan market.
“In terms of cover we’ve also got the very versatile Jason Lowe who must have played in nearly every position for Blackburn Rovers bar in goal and up front.”
Kane started Rovers’ first 19 matches of the campaign after signing on a season-long loan from Chelsea.
But after picking up a suspension and then a thigh injury, the 20-year-old has been restricted to just three starts in the last 20 games.
Bowyer added: “All young players go through periods when they need to come out of the team for a breather.
“But when either (Kane or Henley) have they have come back into the team they have done magnificently well and now it’s an opportunity for Todd to do the same again.
“I remember when he was first left out he came back in against Blackpool at home and won man of the match. That’s the level of response that we need.”
Kane is expected to start against Watford tonight.
But Bowyer, who can also play midfielder Lowe or Michael Keane at right back, has not ruled out signing competition for Kane before the loan window shuts on Thursday.
He added: “We’ll see how we go against Watford and then we’ve got until Thursday at 5pm if we need to act.”
Bowyer would not be drawn on whether Lowe or captain Grant Hanley will be back from injury in time for tonight’s clash after both missed the weekend draw with Leicester.
But the Rovers boss did reveal that Tom Cairney is set to return for Saturday’s trip to Millwall after he came through a full training session for the first time since injuring his ankle in the 1-0 win at Reading on February 22.
Tonight’s match will come too early for the former Hull City midfielder.
Giuseppe Sannino’s Watford have won their last six games at home and have not conceded a goal at Vicarage Road in more than 10 hours of football.
But Rovers go into the encounter buoyed by a superb second-half performance against table-topping Leicester.
And Bowyer believes that will leave his side in good shape for tonight’s test.
He said: “Leicester’s comments after the game was that we gave them one of, if not the, hardest game they have had this season. That should give our players confidence but they’ve got to go and do it again.”
Rovers are currently nine points off the Championship play-off places with 10 matches remaining.