IF the young Rovers players currently cutting their teeth lower down the Football League ladder need convincing of the value of going out on loan then they need look no further than Jordan Rhodes.

No doubt some of the focus on Saturday’s showdown with Brentford will centre on Alan Judge, the midfielder who swapped Ewood Park for Griffin Park in the summer.


But there will be another player facing one of his former clubs. That player, of course, is Rovers star Rhodes.

I remember watching him play for Brentford in the second half of the 2008-09 season. He was not on target that day – his strike-partner Charlie MacDonald helping himself to a hat-trick in a 3-0 win over Chester City – but he did manage to net seven times in 14 appearances for the Bees before returning to Ipswich.

Since then Rhodes has not looked back, bagging an incredible 147 goals in his last 265 appearances for Huddersfield and Rovers.

Now the relatively short time he spent with Brentford is not the reason for the prolific career he has enjoyed and will continue to enjoy for years to come. It is more to do with his innate ability in front of goal and his determination to improve as a player.

But his spell with the then League Two outfit certainly did not do any harm.

Ironically having Jack O’Connell, John O’Sullivan, Anthony O’Connor, Darragh Lenihan and David Raya away on loan has done harm to the results recorded by Rovers’ Under 21s and U18s teams.

Had those five players been available for the U21s then there is no doubt Eric Kinder’s side would not have gone six games without a win.

And had those five players been available for the U21s then there is no doubt the U18s would have won more matches, too. That is because they have been unable to call regularly on the likes of Sam Lavelle and Jack Doyle after their promotion to an U21s ranks ravaged by the departures of O’Connell et al.

But had those five players remained it would have been to the detriment of both themselves and the club.

It is hoped all five will return to Rovers and push for a place in Gary Bowyer’s first-team squad. They have certainly got a better chance of doing that by playing regularly in League One and League Two rather than in the sterile environment that is the U21s Premier League. And, after getting a taste of real football, they will want more, whether it is with Rovers or anyone else.

That’s when Bowyer will have a decision to make. Some he will get right and some he will get wrong.

But probably not as wrong as the mistake then Ipswich boss Roy Keane made when letting Rhodes leave for Huddersfield in the summer of 2009. As anyone who watched the striker back then could see he was heading for the top.