Sheffield Wednesday: New addition Jordan Rhodes ready to lead Owls mission
The goal machine is raring to go.
Record signing Jordan Rhodes is in line to make his Hillsborough bow against Birmingham City tonight.
Wednesday mean a lot to Rhodes and the striker, who celebrated his 27th birthday last weekend, will be looking to open his goalscoring account for his new club in front of the Sky cameras.
Winger Ross Wallace told The Star: “Jordan’s goals record is second to none.
“He’s been outstanding and we are delighted to have him here and if we can provide him with assists and chances and get him in the box as that is where he is best - in the box - he can turn half chances into goals.”
Rhodes made a promising start to his Wednesday career at lowly Wigan Athletic a week ago, setting up Wallace’s matchwinning strike with a fine flick on.
“Jordan did well,” acknowledged Wallace.
“It wasn’t the best of games with the conditions and not free-flowing football, but he looked sharp and you can tell that you can make runs off him.
“Jordan is clever and sees runners when the ball is coming up to him. He is clever in and around the box and that is where we want to get him.”
Rhodes’s record in the lower leagues is outstanding. He is a poacher and puts himself in areas where he can inflict maximum punishment on the opposition.
But for Rhodes to shine, he needs his teammates to make opportunities for him. Too often at the DW Stadium he fed on scraps.
Wallace said: “We have good quality in there (up front) and no excuses now.
“It is up to us as midfielders to create chances for them and give them opportunities to score goals as they are proven goalscorers.
“We are happy with the strikers we have got and go into the back end of the season looking forward to it.”
The goals are starting to flow for Wallace. The Scot has found the back of the net three times in his last four matches.
When asked what has been the secret to his recent scoring form, Wallace said: “I don’t know. I’ve been getting in good goalscoring positions and playing a little bit more forward.
“At the start of the season, I was trying to come back and link play up and clear my way up the pitch.
“This season, I have been in more forward positions in between midfield and attack and I think I have been able to break and knock in a few goals.
“The style the manager wanted me to play last season was come back and try and link the game up and play from the back as we don’t want to keep pumping balls forward.
“With the players we have got, we like the ball on the floor. In the last few weeks, the manager has told me to play a little bit more forward and let other people stay on the ball and keep high on the pitch.
“It is up to the midfield to provide these boys with chances and it is up to those who start to put the ball in the back of the net.”
After three matches in a row on their travels, Wednesday are relishing the prospect of playing at Hillsborough again. Six of their next nine fixtures are on home soil and three points over the Blues will move them five points clear of seventh-placed Norwich City, who were held to a 2-2 draw at Wigan in midweek.
Wallace said: “Home form was key for us last year and having more home games in the second part of the season will hopefully be beneficial for us and we can get the fans right behind us as usual to spur us on.”
The Owls will be out to avenge the 2-1 defeat they suffered at St Andrews earlier in the campaign.
“I remember we had a lot of the ball in the first half and they struggled to get to grips with us and they put another midfielder on to try and stop us from playing, which a lot of teams have done this season,” said Wallace. “I kind of expect that same sort of thing on Friday.
“We went ahead and dominated the first 20 minutes to half an hour and were getting in behind. But that was when we weren’t finishing teams off and that was the problem at the start of the season.”