Sheffield Wednesday caretaker manager Neil Thompson has given a strong endorsement of Jordan Rhodes after the striker scored the winning goal last night at Bournemouth.
The 30-year-old has been a bit-part player for the Owls all season, but came off the bench to great effect at the Vitality Stadium.
He was brought on to replace the injured Callum Paterson, who scored Wednesday’s opening goal, early in the second half.
After Junior Stanislas levelled from the spot, Rhodes stepped up to be the match-winning hero with a back-post header in the 90th minute.
His time at Hillsborough has looked up for some time, having failed to become a regular this season under three difference regimes, starting just one Championship match this term.
Instead he has been an infrequently used substitute with neither Garry Monk now successor Tony Pulis feeling inclined to give him more opportunities.
Indeed, the latter was particularly unequivocal in his belief that Rhodes was not up the job of leading the Sheffield Wednesday line, stating that he didn’t have a proper centre-forward in his squad at all.
His fortunes didn’t appear to be looking any brighter under Thompson, who has been in caretaker charge of the Owls since Pulis was dismissed in December.
He was a substitute in Thompson’s first two games, coming off the bench in one, before missing the next three games either side of the team’s Covid-enforced break for reasons which were never made explicitly clear.
Rhodes played the final few minutes of their victory over Preston North End on Saturday, but it was Paterson’s injury on the south coast on Tuesday night that presented Rhodes with an opportunity to make a big difference.
His match-winning effort certainly did that, and after the game Thompson said he was “delighted” for the former Huddersfield Town, Blackburn Rovers and Middlesbrough man.
“It has not happened for him for whatever length of time and it is always frustrating when you’re a player because you want to go and play and he has not done that,” said Thompson.
“He’s a fantastic professional and does everything right. He prepares himself properly every week and he has got his just rewards tonight. I’m delighted for him.”
Rhodes may have the chance to have a further influence if Paterson is ruled out for a period of time through injury, though Thompson said it was “too early” to make a call on the extent of the injury.
“I think he got his studs caught in the turf and he either turned his knee or ankle,” the caretaker boss said, adding that he would be assessed ahead of Saturday’s trip to Millwall.