This article is part of Football League World’s ‘Player View’ series, this content strand is where we put ourselves in the shoes of a given player, and offer an opinion-based outlook on the situation at hand…
As injury updates go, there will have been few worse for Blackburn Rovers than the one they received on Boxing Day.
Speaking after his side’s 1-1 draw with Birmingham City at Ewood Park, Rovers manager Tony Mowbray stepped up in front of the media, and confirmed the far from festive news that everyone associated with the club will have been fearing since Bradley Dack had been stretchered off midway through his side’s goalless draw with Wigan Athletic just a few days earlier.
That injury suffered by the 25-year-old is something that Mowbray has now revealed to be an anterior cruciate ligament problem, that in the words of the Blackburn boss, will keep Dack out of action until “this time next year”.
The size of that blow for Rovers is something that may well be hard to overstate.
Ever since his arrival at Ewood Park, Dack has been a huge figure around the club, and while his trickery and presence both behind the scenes and in the stands will be hard to replicate, it is replacing his goals that will be absolutely crucial to any hopes that Blackburn have of continuing to progress in the absence of their talisman.
In each of the last two full seasons since he joined Blackburn from Gillingham in the summer of 2017, Dack has finished as the club’s top scorer, helping them win promotion back to the Championship and then re-establish themselves in the second tier, with the attacking midfielder netting 18 goals in each of those campaigns.
That is a tally that Dack had looked well set to match again this season, with the attacker netting no fewer than ten times in the campaign prior to his injury, inevitably making him the club’s top scorer once more, only serving to highlight the importance that finding someone to replace those goals will have to Mowbray’s play-off chasers.
Thankfully for Rovers, it does seem as though they have someone who is finding the sort of form he will need to step into that role to some extent at the very least in the next few months.
When Adam Armstrong slotted home his penalty to give Blackburn the lead in that draw with Birmingham less than an hour before Mowbray may that gut-wrenching revelation, the attacker notched his sixth league goal of the season, meaning he has already bettered the tally of five he recorded across the course of the last Championship campaign.
It was also a goal that further cements Armstrong’s position as Rovers’ second top-scorer this season behind Dack, and that will surely put the emphasis on Armstrong to be that man to step up in the absence of Rovers talisman over the next 12 months or so, meaning that mini individual landmark could hardly have come at a better for Armstrong and his side.
Following that somewhat below par return in the previous season, the fact that Armstrong has already surpassed that at what is just past the midway stage of the Championship campaign should give him a big boost in confidence for the attacker, particularly given his two unconvincing loan spells in the second tier he experienced with Barnsley and Bolton prior to his move to Blackburn.
Indeed, it was a step down to League One level with Rovers – initially on a temporary basis – from Newcastle during the 2018 January transfer window that really seemed to rejuvenate Armstrong’s career, and perhaps, will give him something else to focus on as he aims to fill that significant gap left by Dack in the Blackburn lineup.
Having made the move to Ewood Park half a season after Dack, Armstrong would fire in exactly half the number of goals (nine) netted by Dack, in exactly half the number of league appearances made by Blackburn’s mercurial number 23.
That therefore, is proof that Armstrong has the ability to produce the same sort of returns as Dack on his day, and the fact that he is now starting to make his own impact at Championship level, may well have him believing that he can once again match those returns going forward in the current campaign.
With Blackburn still in the hunt for the play-off places they were targeting right from the start of the season, they will certainly hope that that is indeed the case.