‘ALL he does is score goals’. It’s a description of Jordan Rhodes that Joe Royle has heard since he first signed the prolific Blackburn Rovers striker as a 15-year-old boy for Ipswich Town.

And 10 years, and 176 goals in 331 professional appearances later, it is one that still brings a smile to the former Ipswich manager’s face.

All but 10 goals of those goals have come since then Tractor Boys boss Roy Keane sold Rhodes to Huddersfield Town for £350,000 in July 2009.

It is a decision Ipswich have lived to regret and it could come back to haunt them again tomorrow when they face their former Academy starlet at Ewood Park.

Rhodes has netted four goals in five games for Rovers against the Tractor Boys and it would come as no surprise to a man he regards as a mentor if he finds the net this afternoon.

“Traditionally he scores against them – but then again, he scores against most clubs. It’s not personal, it’s what he does,” said former Everton, Manchester City and England forward Royle, who had left Ipswich by the time Rhodes was allowed to slip from their grasp.

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“I took his father, Andy, on as a goalkeeping coach and he mentioned his son was in the Barnsley Academy and would he be able to come down for a trial game. After 20 minutes of the game, I said, ‘yes, we’ll take him’. And as soon as he came to Ipswich he started scoring – and he’s never stopped since.

“Funnily enough I was chatting to John Aldridge a couple of months ago about strikers and he said that there was only one similar to himself, and I smiled and said straight away, ‘it’s Jordan’.

“If the ball comes off the post, off the goalkeeper, flashes across the box, he’s there. He’s also very clever in his movement. You find that when strikers score a lot of goals in the Championship it’s mostly because they’re big or because they are very quick. Jordan is quite different in that he’s clever.

“His movement in the box is up there with the best. He’s not slow either by the way, he’s quicker than what people realise. And while sometimes he may not head the ball as well outside of the box, if there’s a chance of a goal, he heads the ball very well.

“While I haven’t checked statistically, his goal record over the past five or six years must be up there with the best in the country. He’s also a lovely, dedicated kid, who lives the life of an athlete, and the only mystery is that no-one has taken a punt on him yet from the top flight.

“I rather suspect it’s because Blackburn paid so much for him; it’s almost put golden handcuffs on him.

“But you do hear this silly thing, which always makes me smile, and which I don’t get too involved when I hear it, but all he does is score goals.”

It is a tag that was also placed on Aldridge, who established his fearsome reputation in the bottom three divisions of English football before signing for and flourishing at Liverpool, where he remains one of their most revered strikers.

“Probably the highest accolade I could give you is what John Aldridge said about him,” said Royle, who led Everton to FA Cup glory in the same year that Rovers won the 1995 Premiership title.

“He said he’s the only one of his kind still left, i.e. a goal thief. He’s a good judge, John, he’s seen a lot, and scored a lot, and he had the same description himself when people saw him at Newport County and Oxford United. He ended up at Liverpool doing rather well, so you never know.”

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Rhodes made it 79 goals in 150 appearances for Rovers last weekend when he netted an injury-time equaliser to salvage a 1-1 draw at Hull City, who had attempted to sign him last season when they were in the Premier League.

The Scotland international also saw a move to big-spending Championship rivals Middlesbrough in the summer blocked.

Royle, who lives a mile down the road from Rhodes and remains close to him and his family, said: “He’s very comfortable, he loves his life, he’s happily engaged, to be married next year, but he’s desperate to test himself at the highest level.

“And he would love to do that with Blackburn.”

Royle is back working at Everton as their professional development coordinator, a role which sees him track the progress of the young players he sends out on loan.

The 66-year-old was at Ewood last month to watch Conor McAleny, the Everton winger who is on loan at Charlton Athletic, and he was taken by the display of the fit-again Rhodes, whose two goals fired Rovers to their first victory of the season.

“I think last year Bournemouth and Watford gave everyone hope that if you can get a squad of players together who all work for each other, and have a little bit of quality about them, then you’ll have a chance,” said Royle, who twice guided Ipswich into the Championship play-offs after previously leading Oldham Athletic and Manchester City into the top flight.

“And, don’t forget, you need someone who can stick the ball in the back of the net, and nobody does that better than Jordan.

“I watched him a couple of weeks ago and, after two fairly serious injuries already this season, I came away thinking he’s still got a yard to find. Yet he still scored two goals.

“His first one was a typical Jordan, a glancing header from six inches, and the second one was that clever movement again. When other strikers are stood still in the box, he’s moving across the goalkeeper and his marker.

“He also had two shots saved and played the best cross of the game. Yet all he does is score goals. I do grin.”