HUDDERSFIELD Town welcome fellow playoff-chasers Blackburn to the John Smith’s Stadium this evening, and will be hoping former Terriers marksman Jordan Rhodes isn’t in a goalscoring mood.
The £8m striker is expected to get a warm response from the Town Faithful this evening, as he could help fire the Lancastrians closer to the automatic spots.
Town captain Peter Clarke feels only Robbie Fowler comes close to his former team-mate in terms of being a natural-born finisher.
He said: “I hope he gets a fantastic reception because he was a good servant to this club and scored a lot of important goals.
“We will always be eternally grateful to Jordan for that. But he has now moved on to another club and, as professionals, we hope he leaves (tonight) having drawn a blank.
Rhodes scored 87 goals in 145 appearances for Town after joining from Ipswich in the summer of 2009.
Since moving to Ewood Park, the Scotland international has found the net five times in 11 starts and will fancy his chances of adding to that tally tonight against his former club.
Clarke continued: “Jordan was never rash or someone to lash at things. Like (Robbie) Fowler, he almost caressed the ball into the goal.
“When he first arrived at Huddersfield, Jordan wasn’t long out of youth football. But you could see he had great natural ability and his hard work on the training ground improved him.
“He developed physically and also learned over time what senior football was all about.”
Manager Simon Grayson said: “We have seen him down at our training ground, to be honest, in recent weeks. He still pops in for a game of snooker with the lads.
“I wasn’t planning for life without Jordan in the summer but I also did have to make sure we were covered if he did leave.”
Rhodes’s replacement, Beckford, is a doubt tonight with a hamstring injury, while Vaughan could also again be absent with a thigh strain.
Grayson, again without the suspended Jack Hunt, will give the strike duo as long as possible to prove their fitness.
NEIL WARNOCK is hoping Leeds United will start to see the best of Luciano Becchio again after the striker’s recent double from the bench.
The Argentinian is the Championship’s second top scorer behind Burnley’s Charlie Austin, a striker whom Leeds must look to keep quiet tonight.
But that did not stop Warnock from resting Becchio for the last two games after feeling the team needed a change.
Becchio has since responded by scoring a penalty against Southampton in the Capital One Cup just a few moments after coming off the bench and then the equaliser at Brighton in Friday’s 2-2 draw.
Warnock said: “I was delighted for Luciano that he came on in the last two games and got a couple of goals.
“What we have to hope those goals do is get him back to his best.
“It wasn’t happening for him a couple of weeks ago and that is why I took him out of the side. Because he was struggling, he was dropping deeper and deeper. And that was no good to the team.
“We need him up front turning defences. As a team, we haven’t been firing on all cylinders so Luciano has not been alone.”
Tom Lees (eye injury) is a major doubt for tonight’s trip to Turf Moor, a ground where Leeds have enjoyed tremendous success in recent years with four wins from their last five visits.
If Bradford City get through in any of the three domestic cup competitions or qualify for the play-offs, then they will pass the 58 games that the club played in the season they won promotion in 1996 under Chris Kamara by beating Notts County at Wembley.
No wonder, therefore, that boss Phil Parkinson is determined to keep rotating his troops as City prepare to face Chesterfield tonight.
He said: “We are playing a lot of games at the moment so it is important that we keep chopping and changing our personnel.
“There is no way everyone can play every game, not with the schedule we have.
“The key is keeping everyone fresh, though of course it helps that we are on a decent run in both the Cups and the league.
“It will also be nice to be back at Valley Parade after having so many away games recently.”
City will be boosted tonight by the availability of defender John Egan, who trained with his team-mates yesterday for the first time after joining on loan from Sunderland.
The 20-year-old, watched by Parkinson in a reserve game last Thursday, has been drafted in after Luke Oliver and Andrew Davies were ruled out long-term.
Tiredness is not the only concern for City, however, as Chesterfield travel to Valley Parade this evening fresh from a 6-1 demolition job against Hartlepool in the cup at the weekend.