COLIN Kazim-Richards’ long-awaited return to fitness will be “massive” for Blackburn Rovers’ Premier League push, caretaker boss Eric Black says.
The Turkish international made his first appearance since August 22 as a late second half substitute in Wednesday’s goalless draw at Nottingham Forest, with Black adamant life is about to get easier for his other strikers.
Kazim-Richards was signed on loan from Galatasaray to cover the long-term absence of fellow summer new boy Leon Best but his recent injury has left Rovers without a physical presence in attack.
Nuno Gomes and £8million man Jordan Rhodes have done their utmost to cover, scoring seven goals between them, but Black admits the duo have been asked to do things that don’t come naturally to them.
Black said: “It’d be massive to get him back, absolutely massive. Not taking away anything from the players who have played but we have had to adapt to not having a real presence.
“We have signed Jordan who is an immense talent but we are asking him to do a lot of things that he has never done in his career – and he is doing them willingly. As is Nuno Gomes but it is not their game. Bringing Kaz in would bring something extra into the mix. He is a presence and he plays off the back four. He wants to play higher in the game.
“The other two have been doing their utmost and I have been delighted with their response but Kaz brings different things to the party.”
Kazim-Richards comes into contention for a start for tomorrow’s Championship visit of Wolves, with Rovers looking short creatively over the past few games.
Rhodes and Gomes have particularly struggled over the past couple of away games but Black believes they deserve praise, not criticism, for their efforts.
“Kaz was rusty coming on but just his presence helps us,” said Black. “We need to try to get him fit, which will help Rhodes and Gomes.
“It makes their lives an awful lost easier. They are not the type of players to back in and receive, and we know that, but they are our two options at this moment in time.
“The strikers we have, we kick the ball up to them and it comes straight back, that is the type of strikers we have.
“It is not a criticism of them at all because they are top, top strikers but that is not their game, we have to find a solution to that. Kazim-Richards brings a different thing.
“Without doubt there is sympathy for those two. They worked exceptionally hard. We have to try and work the ball up the pitch.
“Neither of them are exceptionally physical, that is not their game. They don’t fix defenders, they don’t win flick-ons. It is very hard for them.
“I certainly would not criticise them in any shape or form and we have to try and show that we can create in some shape or form.”
Rovers came away from the City Ground on Wednesday reasonably content with a rare 0-0 draw, as a new 3-5-2 formation saw them looking more solid than they have done all season.
But Black knows they have to improve offensively as they look to entertain the Ewood faithful tomorrow.
He said: “It is not an easy task coming anywhere in the Championship. I would be honest and say we would have liked to have created more.
“We changed the shape and the players worked really hard to adopt that shape and make it work.
“We are asking two front man who are not necessarily people who fix the game to fix the game, so it was really difficult for those.
“I knew the players’ attitude and I never had a worry about that. It would have been nice for us to create more chances but it is not up to us to come to an away ground and open up and play.
“We need to be more offensive at home there is no doubt about that. I am happy to accept whatever criticism we get for coming to an away ground and getting a point.
“I think we have to score more goals at home with that type of defensive performance.”