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Paul Wheelock column: Rejuvenated King can be difference
MAYBE it was the continued outstanding form of the irrepressible Craig Conway? Or maybe it was the sight of a fired-up Ben Marshall back in training and itching for a first-team return?
But whatever inspired Josh King to produce his most two complete displays of the season, it worked a treat.
We have known for a long time that the winger possesses the pace to trouble even the most fleet-footed of full backs.
But the accusation often levelled at the former Manchester United flyer is that his end product lets him down, that he lacks composure to lift his head and pick out a team-mate at the vital moment.
However as anyone who has had the pleasure of watching King in action over the last 10 days would testify, there was absolutely nothing wrong with his final ball in the thumping away victories at Charlton and Birmingham.
The way the Norwegian crossed for Rudy Gestede to break the deadlock in both matches was impressive enough, his teasing deliveries being gleefully gobbled up by the Championship’s most in-form frontman.
But it was set-up play for two other chances, one which ultimately led to a goal, which really suggested that the penny may have dropped.
The first came at St Andrew’s when the game was goalless.
Not for the first time, and certainly not for the last, King left Callum Reilly on his backside before taking a moment to look up, assess his options, and then play the perfect pass across the box to Gestede, who will still be scratching his wonderfully accurate as to how he missed.
King showed similar awareness in the lead up to the goal that settled Saturday’s clash at The Valley.
Taking a pass from Tom Cairney he careered into the box and, at some pace, pulled the back for Jordan Rhodes. We all know what happened next as Cairney tucked away the rebound after Rhodes’ initial effort was hacked off the line.
Now what has to happen next season is for King to keep up his current level of performance.
Gary Bowyer, with the additions of Conway and Gestede in particular, has now assembled a squad capable of mixing up its approach and attacking teams in different ways.
That is evident by the fact that Rovers have scored 27 goals in their last 11 unbeaten league outings.
It remains a squad, however, lacking in genuine, game-changing pace.
King, of course, has that in spades.
And if he can continue to smooth out the rough edges in his game, like he appears to be doing, then Rovers have some player on their hands.
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