There can be no doubt about it: Blackburn Rovers simply must sign a centre back in the January transfer window.
With Derrick Williams set to be out of action for the next three months, and Scott Wharton a spell potentially more than three times as long as that on the sidelines, Tony Mowbray’s side are currently facing the prospect of completing the second half of the season with just two senior centre backs.
Given that their remaining available options in the centre of their defence – Darragh Lenihan and Daniel Ayala – both have a history of absence and injury in recent seasons, it is hard to imagine that failure to recruit in that position in January would not pose a major threat to any hopes Rovers have of breaking into the play-off places this season.
The worry for Mowbray and co. therefore, is that it seems adding that extra body in the centre of defence, may be easier said than done.
Speaking earlier this month, the Blackburn manager admitted he will have to hold discussions with the club’s owner Venkys about providing some additional funds to recruit a centre back in January, after a busy summer transfer window left the club without any remaining budget for the turn of the year.
However, it could be argued that given the make-up of Blackburn’s squad at the minute, Rovers may well have the option of creating their funds to go out and bring in that all important centre back.
Right now, it is probably fair to say that Rovers have more than enough options the centre of midfield in particular.
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Joe Rothwell, Lewis Holtby, Bradley Johnson and Norwich loanee Tom Trybull have been joined in recent weeks by Stewart Downing and Bradley Dack as options in that position, while Lewis Travis and Corry Evans are also closing in on returns from injury to add yet more cover in the centre of park, with young prospects John Buckley and Jacob Davenport also competing for first-team places.
As a result, the switch from a 4-2-3-1 to a 4-3-3 formation originally introduced in the summer, which has seen the likes of Rothwell, Holtby – and potentially now that he is back fit – Dack into a deeper position, it does seem as though Rovers have something of a surplus of options in that position.
With that in mind, while there are certain central midfield options that Rovers simply cannot afford to let go in January, that is something that may give Mowbray some food for thought as he looks to come up with a budget for the next few weeks.
Playing with three in midfield, as Mowbray looks to have settled on now, means that Rovers arguably do not need all nine of those options, and that could open the door for opportunities in other areas of the pitch.
If Blackburn were to look to move one or two of those on in January, either permanently or on loan, then it could help to raise the funds and create space in the wage budget, which could then allow them to go out and get that centre back they need to provide cover that unlike in midfield, they simply do not have.
It would of course, be a shame for any player who is moved out of Ewood Park in order to make way for a potential incoming, given the part that all have played for the club in recent times.
The fact of the matter is though, that at such a crucial stage of the season, Blackburn simply must do what is right for the team and club as a whole, particularly given the significance of what could be at stake over the next few months, considering the promise they have shown so far.