Blackburn Rovers boss Tony Mowbray has said academy graduate Joe Rankin-Costello is “close to his best” after a string of injury struggles.
The 22-year-old is one of a host of Blackburn Rovers talents to have made their way through the club’s youth ranks and into the senior side.
However, Rankin-Costello’s progress has been slowed somewhat by injuries. This season, the Stockport-born talent was sidelined for much of last season and has been limited to only six Championship appearances this campaign.
Rankin-Costello has been back amongst the squad in recent weeks, starting against Fulham last weekend and putting in a decent display despite the fact Blackburn Rovers were second best on the day.
Now, amid his return to the side, the versatile ace has drawn high praise from Rovers boss Mowbray.
As quoted by the club’s official website, Mowbray said Rankin-Costello is “close to his best” after coming back into the side, saying:
“When a player’s been out as long as Joe has, it’s difficult to just expect them to hit the ground running.
“It’s taken him a lot of time and we’ve had discussions with him regarding the data that you get from every football match. The distances, the high-intensity running needed to improve dramatically, but I thought we saw on Saturday that he is getting close to his best.
“That’s a positive sign for us because he was way short during the few times he did get on the pitch. That tells us that his fitness levels are getting towards where they need to be.”
Mowbray went on to add that the challenge is now for Rankin-Costello to complete 90 minutes, something he has done only once this season, playing the full game for Blackburn Rovers’ U23s against Crystal Palace back in January.
With Deyo Zeefuik and Ryan Nyambe struggling with injuries as it stands, the chance is there for Rankin-Costello to stake a claim for a regular starting spot.
It is a good opportunity at a good time for the academy graduate. Nyambe’s deal is expiring at the end of the season and Zeefuik is only on loan, so it is the perfect chance to show why he deserves a starting spot on the right-hand side moving forward.