Blackburn Rovers manager Tony Mowbray has admitted that it is unlikely that centre back Daniel Ayala will play for the club again this season.
Ayala joined Blackburn last summer on a three-year deal, following his departure from Championship rivals Middlesbrough.
Since then however, Ayala has made just nine appearances for Rovers, and hasn’t featured since December due to injury.
Now it seems as though it could be some time before the Spaniard plays again, with Mowbray keen to ensure he is fully fit for the 2021/22 campaign.
Providing an update on Ayala’s fitness, Mowbray told The Lancashire Telegraph: “It’s unlikely he’s going to get an opportunity to play in the first team, but we’ll wait and see.
“I think the bigger picture for Daniel is to have a really, really strong pre-season, build up the robustness to get used to the intensity of the training at this football club and make sure he’s going to be available for a lot of games next season.”
Discussing the blow that Rovers have suffered due to Ayala’s absence – even with the loan signing of Manchester City’s Taylor Harwood-Bellis in the January transfer window – Mowbray explained: “We’re missing our main centre half for the season who’s won promotion twice. You hope someone else can step up when your best players aren’t playing.
“(Taylor) is doing really well but the best players make a difference when they’re playing.”
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Next up for Blackburn – who still need a few more points to secure their Championship status for next season – is the visit of Derby to Ewood Park on Friday evening.
You have to say the situation surrounding Ayala has been a hugely frustrating one for Blackburn this season.
It seemed like Rovers had pulled off something of a coup when they secured the signing of the Spaniard, given his pedigree at this level.
That however, is not something that has even come close to paying off yet, and that lack of stability in defence that his problems have contributed to will certainly not have helped Rovers in their struggles to mount a proper push for the top-six for much of the campaign.
As a result, you feel questions may well be asked of this deal at some point, and Ayala now needs a big 2021/22 season to prove Blackburn were right to take a chance on him, meaning it could be sensible for them not to take a chance on him now, to ensure he is ready to go at the start of the new campaign.