For the third season in a row, Blackburn Rovers are set for a mid-table Championship finish in what must be classed as a disappointing campaign.
Big money signings have been made over the years, such as Ben Brereton and Sam Gallagher, but they have been unable to fire Rovers any closer to the play-offs and it will be a summer of questioning for Tony Mowbray, who needs to assess what more can be done to push the club back up the table.
They’ll be without Bradley Dack for part of next season due to his knee injury, Harvey Elliott will no doubt return to Liverpool following his highly-successful loan spell at Ewood Park, and inevitably Rovers fans will see Adam Armstrong depart.
Armstrong was a 2018 capture from Newcastle United for £1.75 million following a successful League One loan spell with the club, and after a below-par first full season which saw him net just five goals, the 24-year-old exploded into life last season.
16 Championship goals in 2019/20 has been followed by 25 league strikes in 39 games this season, and that included 14 in as many matches to kick off the campaign.
With form like that, Armstrong will understandably be hot property this summer and with just a year left on his contract, it’s almost a guarantee that Rovers will sell for an eight-figure price with Brighton, West Ham and his former club Newcastle tracking him according to LancsLive.
It means that Rovers will have to be realistic and search for his replacement, with Mowbray knowing he won’t see most of the money made on Armstrong’s probable departure.
The big 22-question Blackburn Rovers end of season quiz – Can you score 100% on this?
There’s a case to be made for Ben Brereton or Sam Gallagher to inherit the role, with the former being pretty much converted to a winger in the past couple of years whilst Gallagher is also often seen out wide despite being a natural striker – he’s not the same type of player as Armstrong though.
It’s going to be hard for Rovers to find a natural Armstrong replacement – there might not be one with his pace and finishing prowess out there – however League One seems to be a good source of goalscorers who can make that step up a level and there’s a striker just nine miles down the M65 who could fill the void.
Accrington Stanley have been punching above their weight again this season at the top end of League One, and it’s been largely down to the goals of Dion Charles that have propelled them to such heights.
Their season may have tailed off somewhat but Charles hasn’t, with the Preston-born striker having a breakthrough season for Stanley.
In 41 League One games this season, the 25-year-old has netted 19 times and assisted three goals (Sofascore) and that kind of form doesn’t go unnoticed, with Cardiff City and Derby County both linked with a move for the Northern Ireland international.
Charles isn’t as quick as Armstrong, and he’s never done it above League One level – he’s even a year older than the probably outgoing Rovers striker – but the fact of the matter is they’ll struggle to find someone who does everything that Armstrong delivers.
Their best best is probably going to be a Premier League loan but if he has the same impact as Rovers’ number seven has had this season then they won’t be able to keep him.
That’s why they should take a seven-figure punt on Charles – it might not work out in the end but he’s certainly proving this season that he’s deserving of a step up into the Championship.