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Mackay urges Rhodes to bide his time over Scot shot
Blackburn Rovers ’ £8million man Jordan Rhodes should take a patient approach to his international dreams, with scoring on a regular basis in the Championship needing to be his immediate priority.
That is the view of former Rovers manager Don Mackay, who has warned the 22-year-old Scottish hot-shot his big money transfer means little until he has proved himself on the field.
Scotland fans are calling for Rhodes to be handed his first competitive start in this evening’s World Cup qualification match against Macedonia at Hampden, after he was left on the bench until the last nine minutes during Saturday’s 0-0 draw with Serbia.
But Mackay, who gave fellow Scot, Colin Hendry, his big chance at Rovers, insists Rhodes has plenty of time to endear himself to the Tartan Army and that he still has a lot to prove before he can expect to become an international regular.
Rhodes’ switch from Huddersfield to Ewood Park last month saw him equal Rovers’ transfer record fee and become English football’s most expensive player outside the top flight.
He is likely to make just his second start for the club in Saturday’s trip to Bristol City and Mackay believes succeeding at domestic level has to be his first challenge.
Mackay, who managed Rovers between 1987 and 1991, said: “It doesn’t really matter what he cost. All that does is show that the owners are prepared to back a promotion push financially but, for the player, there is still everything to prove.
“His goal scoring record is fantastic but that is mostly in League One and now he has to play regularly at Blackburn Rovers and score goals in the Championship on a consistent basis. That is the next aim for him.
“If he plays regularly and scores goals at Blackburn Rovers then of course he will get that big chance for Scotland. It is a simple as that really. Until he does that, you can’t say he is tried and trusted.”
Mackay, who is moving back to Scotland in search for scouting work, believes Rhodes will be a success at Ewood and could even earn similar cult hero status as Hendry did.
He believes Rhodes’ quiet approach is the right way forward and is hopeful Ewood Park will provide the perfect stage for him to prove his talents.
Mackay, 72, said: “It is important he just lets his football do the talking. Playing in the Championship is a whole new challenge and I’m sure it is one he is looking forward to taking on.
“It is encouraging to hear the player has already said the fee means nothing and that he just wants to play for the club and score goals to help them get promoted.
“That is the best and only way he can grow his reputation. When you are playing at a new level, there is no guarantee you will be a success, all you can do is work hard.
“It was like I brought Colin Hendry to Blackburn from Dundee reserves. He got his head down, worked hard and look at what he achieved. Hopefully Jordan can enjoy similar success at Ewood Park.”