REIGNING player of the year Tom Cairney believes Blackburn Rovers have already done their most important business of the summer – tying talisman Jordan Rhodes down to a new contract.


Gary Bowyer has made three signings to his squad since the end of last season with the Rovers boss intent on adding at least one more before the transfer window closes on September 1.

But star midfielder Cairney reckons getting the prolific Rhodes to commit his long-term future will be paramount to the club’s hopes of winning promotion.

The 24-year-old striker, who has scored 53 goals in 96 appearances since his £8m club record move in August 2012, last week signed a new contract extension that will tie him to Rovers until 2019.

And Cairney, who is set to play a more central midfield role this season, cannot wait to link up with Rhodes again.

He said: “I think it’s good for the team and for the club that he’s put pen to paper.

“He’s scored 50-odd goals in two seasons and when you’ve got a talisman like that you want to keep him.

“I think I speak on behalf of the boys when I say that we are all very happy he has signed.

“The hardest thing to do in football is score goals and he does it every season for us.

“My first thought is always forward and his first thought is to always look to get in behind a defence or get a goalscoring opportunity.

“So hopefully I will put him through a few times this season.”

Rhodes putting pen to paper was swiftly followed by out-of-contract duo David Dunn and Markus Olsson agreeing new one-year deals.

Cairney has taken over as Rovers’ chief creative force from fans’ favourite Dunn.

But he still believes the 34-year-old has a big role to play.

Cairney, who pipped Rhodes to last season’s player of the year award after an outstanding debut campaign at Ewood Park, said: “On and off the field his experience is second to none.

“Everyone knows about his ability and I’m sure he’ll bring something to the table again this season.

“It’s good that we have kept the same faces from last season that helped turn the club around and bring the feel good factor back.”

One player who will not be returning to Rovers is transfer-listed midfielder Alex Marrow.

The 24-year-old, who rejoined the club last summer, yesterday negotiated his release from the final two years of his contract to sign a one-year deal with Carlisle United.

Marrow had been on trial at the League Two outfit and his departure means of the six players Rovers listed in May only two – Leon Best and Jordan Slew – remain after David Goodwillie, Dickson Etuhu and DJ Campbell were paid off.

Ewood chiefs remain hopeful of finding new clubs for strikers Best and Slew.

A 27-man Rovers squad – including Ruben Rochina – is currently in Portugal undergoing warm-weather training.