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Blackburn Rovers new boy Rhodes ready for Ewood bow
4:17pm Tuesday 18th September 2012 in Sport
PREDATOR: a person whose behaviour is rapacious or exploitative. Ruthless: having no pity or compassion.
Neither of these words or meanings sum up Jordan Rhodes the man, but put the 22-year-old on a football field with the ball at his feet and the goal frame in front of him, and it’s a different story.
Ninety-nine career goals to date, from 183 appearances, will testify to that.
He can’t explain why.
But this mild-mannered, modest individual insists he is not the finished article.
Blackburn Rovers, he feels, can expect more for their money.
“I don’t think you can be too good at anything. I think you can work on your strengths and your weaknesses,” said the former Huddersfield hot shot.
“For me I don’t think that particularly identifies one area to work on.
“I’m working on all aspects, strength, speed, left foot, heading, my right foot – all sorts of different technical and tactical attributes as well.
“I just try to make myself better as a whole.”
Rhodes became Rovers’ record signing on August 30, with an £8million offer ultimately testing Huddersfield’s resolve after a long, summer pursuit.
Fans will get their first glimpse of him at Ewood Park tonight when Rovers entertain Barnsley hoping to stretch their winning home run to three games and retain their position at the top of the Championship.
Rhodes helped to put them there with his first goals – two key ones – as Rovers came back from behind to beat Bristol City and record their first away win of the season with a 5-3 scoreline at Ashton Gate.
He is looking forward to his Ewood experience.
“You always remember your first game, your first goal, your first home game,” he said.
“If I get time on the field and if selected I’ll give it my best shot and work as hard as I can and hopefully come the end of the 90 minutes we’ll have scored more goals than Barnsley.”
The game takes on extra meaning for Rhodes, having spent time on the Tykes books as a youngster.
The Oldham-born striker joined the under 11s at Oakwell when his dad, Andy, was employed as the first team goalkeeping coach.
He stayed with the Academy for four years before moving to East Anglia when former Oldham and Barnsley stopper Andy took a similar job under Joe Royle at Ipswich Town.
Rhodes completed his apprenticeship at Portman Road before going on to make his name at Huddersfield Town.
“I’ve always quite fancied being a striker. I used to look up to Henrik Larsson, Ally McCoist, Billy Dodds and people like that, Darren Jackson,” said Rhodes, who saw this players in action when his dad played north of the border for Dunfermline, St Johnstone and Airdrieonians.
“Then coming down the road now and seeing Alan Shearer and Ruud van Nistelrooy applying their trade and seeing what they did best and different types of movement.
“I always dreamed one day I’d step out on the field, at whatever level it might be, and be a professional footballer. It’s fantastic to live the dream and do that to this day.”
Bar dropped points at Ipswich and Leeds United it has been almost a dream start for Rovers in response to relegation.
“We’ve had a good start, but that’s all it has been,” warned Rhodes.
“The challenge now is to build on that and maintain the form we’ve started with, hopefully against a very tough Barnsley team.”
His own mission to improve is a daily one.
“I just try to make myself a better player,” he said.
“I try to get myself in areas I think the ball might drop in or try to apply a certain technique whether it’s power, or my head or a sidefoot, where I think the ball might be best going into the goal.
“Sometimes they go in and that’s great, for the team and supporters and things, and sometimes they don’t.
“I’m just trying to go out on the field at any given time to give it my best shot and work as hard as I can whatever team that might be in.
“There are so many great strikers that have been here in the past, and I’m looking forward to learning off the strikers here now to try to be the best I can be. I try not to let things faze me too much.
“Now I’m at Blackburn Rovers I’m going to give it my all for the club.”