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Blackburn Rovers

Manchester City loanee facing a big personal challenge after Saturday’s events – opinion

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Goodness me, did Blackburn Rovers need that.

It may only have been the third game of the Championship season, and they may have already just about got off the mark against Oldham Athletic in the Carabao Cup the Tuesday before, but their 1-0 win over Middlesbrough certainly felt like the real starting point of Blackburn’s season.

Having slumped to somewhat lacklustre defeats to newly promoted Charlton Athletic and recently-relegated Fulham in their opening two games of the league campaign, to leave them bottom of the early standings, Rovers arrived at Ewood Park on Saturday knowing full well that the sooner they got those first points on the board, the better.

It was something they made sure they did there and then. Having put themselves in a winning position courtesy of Danny Graham’s penalty against his former club in a first half during which they always looked dangerous going forward, Rovers’ defence then did its duty effectively in the second period to see the game out for a very welcome opening three points of the campaign.

But while the majority of those around the club will have felt a huge sense of relief when referee Jarred Gillett blew his whistle for full time on Saturday, one man in particular may well have felt a slight sense of concern about his own individual prospects in the coming months.

Having joined on a season-long loan from Manchester City in the final days of the summer transfer window, centre back Tosin Adarabioyo had enjoyed a reasonably solid debut in the 2-0 defeat away to Fulham the week before.

With injury keeping him out of the matchday squad on Saturday, however, the 21-year-old watched on as Darragh Lenihan and Derrick Williams re-established the central defensive partnership that helped Blackburn end last season so impressively for the first time this campaign, and guide the club to a much-needed three points in the process.

Indeed, in the 11 games since the start of last season that Lenihan and Williams have been partnered at centre back, Rovers have lost just twice – with both of those defeats coming last season to automatic promotion winners Sheffield United and Norwich City.

Perhaps unsurprisingly then, Mowbray would admit after the match that it could be difficult for him to drop either of the pair any time soon.

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While that may be a relief for Rovers fans considering the proven effectiveness of the duo, it is probably not what Adarabioyo himself would have wanted to hear.

All other things aside, the defender has come here more than anything else to get as many minutes under his belt in order to help him develop his game further ahead of his return to the Etihad next summer.

That is something that is not going to happen if he is sat on the sidelines week in week out, and it could leave the defender questioning whether this was the right move for him to make for this season.

It is, however, something that Adarabioyo could look to use to his advantage.

Between them, Lenihan and Williams made just 61 league appearances out of a possible 92 between them last season, with injury playing a significant part in that, meaning that you would imagine Adarabioyo’s chance in the first team will come along sooner rather than later.

If that does indeed prove to be the case, then the youngster has to be aiming to do all he can to make sure that he becomes the one who it is soon difficult for Mowbray to drop once he gets his chance in the side, and that could prove to be a valuable experience of its own for him.

There is absolutely no doubt that Adarabioyo is going to have to fight for his place throughout his career at City, so doing it here first could stand him in good stead for when he has to do that upon his return to the Etihad Stadium.

It probably wasn’t the exact lesson that he would have been expecting to learn when he made the temporary move to Ewood Park this summer, but if Adarabioyo is able to successfully fight for his place in the Rovers squad this season, it will not have been a year wasted. Considering the record of those he is going to overhaul in the pecking order to do that, him being able to do that could prove to be just as beneficial for Blackburn Rovers, as it does for Tosin Adarabioyo.

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