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Opinion: Recent events mean this Blackburn Rovers summer signing needs to come good at Ewood Park

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Even after such an emphatic, you couldn’t have blamed Blackburn Rovers fans for feeling some sense of concern as manager Tony Mowbray spoke to the media after his side’s 5-1 thrashing of Cardiff City just over two weeks ago.

Explaining the substitution of captain Darragh Lenihan moments after his side had gone 4-0 up in the match early in the second, Mowbray explained the move had been taken to protect the centre back, who had apparently felt an issue with his groin at half time in the game.

With two more games to play that week, and Rovers possessing a dismal record when Lenihan is unavailable, that admission from Mowbray looked to have left the club facing something of a challenge as they looked to maintain their strong start to the campaign.

In the end, that was not a challenge that Blackburn were able to step up to the plate and cope with.

As Lenihan was forced to settle for a place on the sidelines due to injury, Blackburn would suffer back to back defeats away at Huddersfield and Blackpool, that saw them slip out of the Championship play-off places going into the October international break.

Indeed, with right-back Ryan Nyambe also being forced off early in that defeat to Huddersfield with a concussion that also kept him out of the loss at Blackpool, it was the young pairing of Tyler Magloire and Hayden Carter who Rovers were forced to turn for much of those defeats.

Both Magloire and Carter had spent a considerable amount of time out on loan last season, and speaking during the summer, Mowbray had indicated that he was keen to send the duo out on a temporary basis again this season.

As it was, such exits were not secured, and with Magloire and Carter forced into the challenging situation on that side of Rovers’ defence, it was that right flank where Blackburn looked most vulnerable in those defeats.

However, you wonder whether things could have been rather different in those two games for Rovers, had they had one of their own summer loan signings available to play.

Having joined Blackburn on a season-long loan from Brighton back in the summer transfer window, Jan Paul van Hecke has still yet to make his debut for the club due to injury.

That is something that is not altogether unsurprising, given Mowbray admitted some weeks before that van Hecke was unlikely to be fit to play until after the October international, a situation the Rovers boss claimed to have been “comfortable” with.

But considering his significant physical presence, and the top-flight experience he has both from his walk behind the scenes with Brighton, and a loan spell with Herenveen in the Dutch top-flight last season, there is an argument that having van Hecke available to cover for Lenihan at Huddersfield and Blackpool, could have seen things play out differently.

However, with that unable to be the case, and van Hecke having now missed six league games since his temporary move to Ewood Park was confirmed, not to mention with almost a quarter of the Championship season already being completed, some may start to question whether the 21-year-old was the right option for Rovers to move for, as opposed to another defensive option, who could potentially have been available to help the club avoid those costly defeats.

There is no doubt that van Hecke has the potential and pedigree to make that sort of impact for Rovers, but that is no guarantee that he will do so.

If he doesn’t, then Mowbray’s willingness to wait for him to get up to fitness could yet prove even more costly in a back-line that has been dogged by injuries in recent years, as Rovers look to maintain a strong start to the season that had – prior to those last two games where they found themselves counting the consequences of absences in defence – largely exceeded expectations.


UCLan Sports Journalism graduate, been writing for Football League World since March 2019. I've previously worked for the likes of Blackburn Rovers and Opta, among others.

ScoopDragon Football News Network

Article title: Opinion: Recent events mean this Blackburn Rovers summer signing needs to come good at Ewood Park

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