JORDAN Rhodes’ prolifics in front of goal have already seen a few in the game draw comparisons between him and Blackburn Rovers’ scoring great Alan Shearer.
The likeness may be a little premature for the 23-year-old but, having scored 68 goals in his last 78 games for club and country, it is no surprise Rhodes’ reputation is growing by the minute.
Shearer, Tommy Briggs, Simon Garner, Jack Southworth, to name but a few. Rovers fans through the ages have had their fair share of natural finishers gracing Ewood Park and Rhodes’ career exploits to date suggest he has the potential to join them.
Rhodes knows a goal against his former club Ipswich tomorrow will see him join an elite band of Rovers players who have scored in seven consecutive league games, having joined Shearer, Bryan Douglas, George Jones, Briggs, Daniel Hurst and William Davies in bagging six in a row last weekend.
Only Southworth, Ted Harper and Eddie Quigley have achieved the magic seven in a row as Rhodes looks to boost Rovers’ play-off hopes and grab himself a place in the record books at the same time.
One man already guaranteed a place in any Rovers hall of fameinsists Rhodes’ potential was there for all to see from an early age and predicts he has all the attributes to continue his rapid rise.
Derek Fazackerley, Rovers’ record appearance maker having played 674 matches between 1969-87, was a coach at Barnsley when Rhodes was in their youth set up as a 10-year-old.
A few years later he was reunited with the striker at Huddersfield.
Fazackerley, now first team coach at Birmingham City, said: “I have known Jordan for a long time now and am I surprised to see him scoring goals on such a regular basis? No, not at all.
“He has done it wherever he has been. Even when he was a young lad at Barnsley he was a goal scoring striker, he did it throughout his junior career and continued into his senior career.”
Rhodes’ scoring exploits speak for themselves. He has already scored 18 goals in 26 Championship matches for the club, taking his league career tally to 102 in just 185 matches.
He has unsurprisingly quickly emerged as a fans favourite since his £8million switch from Huddersfield this season.
“Many people thought Rovers had paid over the odds for Rhodes,” said Fazackerley. “They probably did as well, but you have to get the real goal scorers to your club.
“He seems to be unfazed by the price tag and I’m not that surprised because he has always been the kind of lad not to be affected by things.
“Jordan is a fantastic lad and a top class professional. I am sure he has the ambition and talent to one day play in the Premier League. “He will have ambitions to get there with Blackburn Rovers but if they don’t in the next 18 months or so, I’m sure you will get bigger clubs knocking on the door.”
The irony of Rhodes’ success over the past few years won’t have been lost on Ipswich fans, with tomorrow’s visitors having deemed him surplus to requirements in 2009.
Then manager Roy Keane opted to sell Rhodes to Huddersfield for in the region of £350,000 and his goals have made the Tractor Boys regret it ever since.
Ipswich’s departing chief executive Simon Clegg, who left Portman Road this week, said: “Hindsight is a wonderful thing and with the benefit of that, yes, we would have kept him.
“Jordan has done incredibly well in League One and the Championship since leaving Ipswich and I hope he looks back on his time at Ipswich with fond memories.”