When news happens, text LT and your photos and videos to 80360. Or contact us by email or phone.
Paul Wheelock column: Rovers defence in need of reinforcements
IF Rovers started the season with the strikers and attacking midfielders they currently have at their disposal you would not find me complaining.
Jordan Rhodes and Rudy Gestede have the potential to be the most potent strike force in the country and now they have adequate back up in the shape of Chris Brown and Luke Varney.
Add Craig Conway and Ben Marshall whipping over crosses from the wings, the searing pace of Josh King and the creativity of Tom Cairney and it is clear that Gary Bowyer boasts the players capable of unlocking even the meanest of Championship defences.
It is the other end of the field that is more of a concern.
Not because Bowyer does not have good defenders to call on – it’s the lack of them that is the problem.
Watching the Rovers squad walk out on to the Brockhall training pitches on Friday for the first time since the start of pre-season it quickly became apparent the lack of cover the club has at the back.
With Markus Olsson out of contract and Michael Keane back at Manchester United there were just four what you would class as senior defenders on show – captain Grant Hanley, Matt Kilgallon, Tommy Spurr and Adam Henley.
Yes Josh Morris, Yann Songo’o and Jack O’Connell were also present.
But makeshift left back Morris is a loan target for Fleetwood while young centre backs Songo’o and O’Connell have yet to make a senior league appearance for the club.
Little wonder, then, that Bowyer has made new defenders his priority.
Ahead of another gruelling 46-game campaign, the numbers he is presently carrying will not be enough.
The good news is there is still another month until the big season opener and another three weeks after that until the transfer window closes.
But with parachute payments having halved and three more big earners having been paid off, Bowyer, like many managers in the Championship, is restricted in how many players he can bring in.
That’s why it would make sense to thrash out a new deal for Olsson.
While the left back is more than likely to start the season behind the dependable Spurr – for the second year running – it would be one less position for Bowyer to fill and it would allow him to focus all his efforts on bringing in a right back – ideally one who can also operate at centre half.
Keane, of course, would fit the bill nicely.
But even if Bowyer cannot tempt the United youngster back to Ewood Park for another loan spell he must try and attract a player of similar quality to ensure Rovers are good to go when the season begins.