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.

News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Dunham
booksLena Dunham's memoirs - written at the age of 28 - are honest to the point of making you squirm
News
Jacqueline Bisset has claimed that young women today are obsessed with being 'hot', rather than 'charming', 'romantic' or 'beautiful'
people
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey
tvDownton Abbey review: It's six months since we last caught up with the Crawley clan
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Frank Lampard and his non-celebration
premier leagueManchester City vs Chelsea match report from the Etihad Stadium
Life and Style
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
techNew app offers 'PG alternative' to dating services like Tinder
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden sings his heart out in his second audition
tvX Factor: How did the Jakes - and Charlie Martinez - fare?
Sport
premier league
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave crime series
Sport
Mario Balotelli celebrates his first Liverpool goal
premier leagueLiverpool striker expressed his opinion about the 5-3 thriller with Leicester - then this happened
News
Britain's shadow chancellor Ed Balls (L) challenges reporter Rob Merrick for the ball during the Labour Party versus the media soccer match,
peopleReporter left bleeding after tackle from shadow Chancellor in annual political football match
Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says
tvSpoiler warning: Star of George RR Martin's hit series says viewers have 'not seen the last' of him/her
News
i100
News
i100
Sport
Plenty to ponder: Amir Khan has had repeated problems with US immigration because of his Muslim faith and now American television may shun him
boxing
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

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments