To say Blackburn Rovers are facing something of an injury crisis at centre back at the moment, would be something of an understatement.
With Scott Wharton and Derrick Williams both revealed as long-term absentees for Tony Mowbray’s side in recent weeks, Rovers could have well done without Daniel Ayala’s enforced absence away at Stoke City on Saturday afternoon.
But while midfielder Bradley Johnson performed reasonably well with what he had to do, you feel that someone with a more natural defensive instinct may have prevented Nick Powell from getting his head to Morgan Fox’s cross for what proved to be the match-winner just six minutes into the game, in what proved another blow for Rovers’ play-off push this season.
Unlike Williams and Wharton, it is hoped that Ayala will be back to action sooner rather than later, but it has already been proven this season that the Spaniard is not without his fitness problems, while Blackburn’s only other currently available senior centre back, Darragh Lenihan, is not without his own history when it comes to injuries, missing 21 league matches in the last two seasons.
As a result, it seems as though the January transfer window is about to arrive at the perfect time for Blackburn, with Mowbray himself admitting he wants to add a centre back to his squad, and Rovers ought not to have look far back in their history to find a man who ought to be an ideal target to fill that role for the Lancashire club.
Prior to their swoop for Ayala in the summer, Rovers had had another centre back on the radar as they looked to strengthen their options in the heart of their defence, reportedly agreeing a fee of £900,000 with administrators at Wigan Athletic for the signing of Cedric Kipre.
Ultimately however, no deal to bring the Ivorian to Ewood Park would materialise, with newly promoted Premier League side West Brom instead swooping to secure the services of the 24-year-old.
But since then, it’s probably fair to say that things have not exactly gone to plan for Kipre at The Hawthorns.
So far this season, the centre back has yet to make a single league appearance for the Baggies, who recently became the first Premier League club to change manager in the campaign, replacing Slaven Bilic with a certain former Blackburn manager by the name of Sam Allardyce as they look to get themselves out of trouble in the battle to avoid relegation at the bottom of the Premier League table.
Consequentially, it seems as though Blackburn may now have an opportunity to put right what they no doubt will feel is a wrong of this summer.
Given the lack of game time Kipre has been given so far this season – struggling to even make the bench for the Baggies – you feel that he could now be open to a move away from the club in January, in search for more regular first-team opportunities.
With the problems that Blackburn have at the heart of their defence, you certainly feel as though Rovers are a club who could offer Kipre just that.
Indeed, when you consider the fact that at 24-years-old, and with three-and-a-half years remaining on his West Brom contract, Kipre could still have plenty to offer the Baggies, they may be more inclined to sanction a loan move than a permanent one next month, something the now-departed Bilic had himself recently hinted at, and that too could aid Rovers.
As with many clubs in their position, Rovers have been hit hard financially by recent events, meaning a transfer fee may be difficult for them to pay at this moment in time, and with a long lost of expiring contracts at the end of this season – including a number of key players such as Bradley Dack, Ryan Nyambe and Joe Rothwell – they can probably not afford to add to much to the wage budget long-term.
Even so, with the significant amount of quality that Kipre showed in a Wigan side that were only relegated on goal difference last season despite a 12-point deduction, there can be no doubt that from a perspective of improving the personnel they have within Blackburn’s squad as well as providing that much-needed cover at centre back.
Add to that the link there is with Allardyce, who may or may not be tempted to do his old club a favour, and it could be argued that the stars are just about lining up for a deal such as this one to be completed a few months later than expected, albeit in slightly different circumstances.
Should that happen, then Rovers’ prospects of achieving their ambition of a play-off place this season would surely be boosted, and then the financial, and football, situation they find themselves in might not be so tricky after all.