Talent Scout: Jordan Rhodes, Huddersfield Town 

 

As the January transfer window began to reach towards its frivolous, panic-buying climax this week, the gap between the top and bottom of the league systems hit home, as fans desperately scrambled to raise £50,000, the average weekly wage of a Premier League footballer, to save 128 years of history at Conference outfit Darlington FC, who were minutes from extension.

Yet in a week of perspective for English football, fans of clubs up and down the country were shown that, while the gap between the leagues in terms of finances might be huge, it's not the same when it comes to talent. Chris Smalling, Steve Morison and Michael Kightly are all set to start in the Premier League this weekend, having taken the increasingly well-trodden path from the Conference, in a route free-scoring Huddersfield Town striker Jordan Rhodes looks certain to take sooner rather than later.

Rhodes is perhaps in best player in England currently operating outside the top flight, with 27 goals in 24 games for League One promotion chasers Huddersfield, who face a mighty battle to keep the 21-year-old from completing the journey from non-league to Premier League this month. Its easy to see why.

Football is in Rhodes' blood, even dictating his birth in the Lancashire city of Oldham, with father Andy Rhodes a goalkeeper at Oldham Athletic at the time. From a young age, Jordan would become fascinated by goals, following in his fathers footsteps by saving them whilst in Barnsley's academy setup, before deciding to score them as a centre forward following a £5,000 transfer to Ipswich Town aged 15.

Rhodes would immediately settle up front, finding the net 40 times in his first season in the Ipswich ranks, before a brief flutter with the first-team. Ultimately though, he found chances difficult to come by, and spent time on loan with then Conference outfit Oxford, before more successful temporary spells with Rochdale and Brentford.

A return to Ipswich promised more, but the blossoming frontman was sold to Huddersfield at the end of that campaign. Six goals in his first six games in Yorkshire showed what a mistake it could prove to be, before Rhodes almost fired Huddersfield to promotion last season, only to fall short in play-off semi-finals. Yet this year, he has ramped up his already impressive scoring ratio, and could be the difference as to whether The Terriers finally go up.

Key to that happening is fending off the significant interest Premier League sides have shown in the Scotland international this month, with plenty of scouts watching him intensively in the past few weeks, and being notably impressed with the range of qualities Rhodes has to offer.

The most notable of which is his excellent physique, as you would expect for a young forward holding his own in the rugged world that is League One. At six foot two inches tall and with impressive upper body strength, he cuts an imposing figure, and matches that with a warrior-like approach to the game, contesting the play well.

In terms of natural abilities, he has good technique, acceptable pace and impressive power, but Rhodes is really all about goalscoring. At this level, he is almost impossible to pick up, elusive in and around the box, thriving on his predatory instincts, and finishing confidently with his preferred right foot, work-in-progress left, or accurate head.

What is also apparent is that Rhodes seems to be able to slow the game down in the opposition box, sometimes using his aforementioned physical advantage to hold defenders off, and keep composed to do what he wants to do. That shows good intelligence, and a creative spark that could be used in all kinds of systems.

At 21, he is still adding to his game all the time, but would need some rapid improvement to adapt to the Premier League straight away. Rhodes is a determined, hungry striker, and although is prepared to chase and work the channels at times, needs to do this more efficiently, while also improving the consistency of passing, shielding of the ball and general link-up play.

In summary, Rhodes has a lot to offer, but needs a move up soon in order to keep improving. A tall, powerful, physical central striker with great movement, a good range of finishing and a determined, battle-hardened approach, he is still raw in many advanced areas of his game, but has the instincts and quality to score goals at the highest level in England, having learnt the basics, like so many, in the often forgotten world of non-league football.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003