BLACKBURN Rovers boss Paul Lambert has insisted that selling top-scorer Jordan Rhodes to Middlesbrough will allow the club to rebuild and make it stronger in the long run.

And Lambert has also confirmed that fellow forward Tom Lawrence will leave the club once his loan from Leicester City expires tomorrow.

Rovers turned down £10m-plus bids for Rhodes from then Premier League outfit Hull City in August 2014 and then from Middlesbrough in July last year.

But Boro last night returned for their long-term transfer target and have had an offer, believed to be worth up to £11m, accepted.

Rhodes played no part in today’s FA Cup fourth-round 3-0 victory at Oxford United after making it clear that, just as he had done in the summer, he wanted to join Rovers’ Championship rivals.

The 25-year-old has scored 85 goals in 169 appearances at Ewood Park, including 11 this season, following his club record £8m move from Huddersfield Town, who are entitled to 20 per cent of any profit made on him.

But Lambert, who saw new signing Tony Watt score in the comfortable win over Oxford, has stressed that no single player is bigger than Rovers.

Lancashire Telegraph:

And he believes the money that the club, which is fresh out of a Financial Fair Play embargo, will receive for Rhodes will give them a better chance of returning to the Premier League.

Lambert said: “I had a chat with Jordan and he wanted to go.

“The club maybe should have taken (the money) when it happened before because the club has to rebuild. That’s evident to compete in the Championship – and I’m talking about the top end; to try and get out of the league. The club has to be rebuilt and the investment will help.

“It’s great scoring goals but if you’re not getting enough points and you’re not getting near the play-offs or the top of the table then it defeats the purpose. It’s chicken or the egg.

“We have to build a team here to get up the league. It can’t revolve around one person. It’s got to revolve around an 18, 19, or 20-odd man squad. We’ve got to get that balance right and that’s what we’ll try and do in the summer.

“We have to have a plan here. This club has to have a plan to move forward. There is a lot, a lot of work to get done. Sometimes you have to go back to go forward and the Jordan thing, while people will be disappointed, they have to understand why we have done it. This football club will outweigh any individual. It always will. And we have to make ourselves as strong as we can.

“Nobody can criticise Jordan Rhodes’ contribution to Blackburn Rovers. He’s been a phenomenon. But that’s football. We have to get a better team. That’s my concern, having a team that can compete to get out of the league, and hopefully the money will help us in that aspect.”

Asked if Rovers can move on without Rhodes, Lambert said: “100 per cent. I will state my life on it.

“Blackburn Rovers will be long here after I’m away. Blackburn Rovers is more important than any individual. This football club will get stronger and the investment will hopefully help.

“Today was a perfect answer and the lads deserve a lot of credit for their performance today.”

Lancashire Telegraph:

Lawrence, who came on for Watt in the second half today, has definitely played his last game for Rovers.

Lambert wanted the Wales international to remain at the club for the reminder of the season.

But, on the advice of his representatives, the 22-year-old’s initial loan was extended by a further four weeks at the start of this month.

It runs out tomorrow and Lawrence will now join another Championship club on loan, believed to be Cardiff City.

Lambert said: “Tom is going back. As I said at the time it was always going to be a dangerous thing because his agent wanted this one-month thing. It was never going to work.

“Tom wants to exercise it, he’s got the Euros to think of, and he’s probably seen Tony come in and thought maybe that’s his chance gone.

“But credit to him for the way he played when he came on and he goes away with big thanks from ourselves because he gave us everything and that’s testament to himself.”