Blackburn Rovers boss Tony Mowbray has moved to explain to the Lancashire Telegraph why he chose to deploy John Buckley as a false nine in his side’s weekend draw at Norwich City.
A midfielder by trade, the 21-year-old once again found himself in a more advanced role as part of the Rovers front three alongside Tyrhys Dolan and Ben Brereton, in a position that he is gradually adapting too under Mowbray.
The youngster showed some bright touches during the opening stages for Blackburn and was involved heavily as he tested Tim Krul in the Norwich goal on two occasions as the visitors started brightly at Carrow Road.
Speaking about his player’s role after the game, the Blackburn boss was quick to explain what qualities the academy graduate brought to proceedings:
“He can score a goal, he’s got an amazing work ethic, a very clever football brain, he can intercept and read passes and he’s got an engine that can keep running.
“Sometimes you don’t play a centre forward against two big, strong centre halves to ask different questions of them and that’s what we did.
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“I thought it worked reasonably well, we had enough opportunities and if we had their strike force at the top end of the pitch we might have scored a few more goals.”
It was also a significant day for Buckley in other ways too as he reached the 50 appearance mark for his boyhood club, in a moment that shows how far the player has come since first making his first team debut back in the 2018/19 campaign.
Showcasing versatility is a trait that is most sought after by most managers and the fact that Buckley can do it so early in his career proves that he has a big future in the game.
He has shown that he has a much wider skillset than that of just your average of midfielder and as a result his career can go in any direction he pleases providing he continues to improve his consistency.
The absence of Adam Armstrong has thrown up problems for Mowbray but this bold tactical decision could prove to solve that issue in the short term.
Along with Sam Gallagher, Buckley provides something different to that of the Rovers top scorer and going forwards the variety of attacking options in that frontline role is likely to prove fruitful for this Blackburn side.