LEE CLARK sends Huddersfield Town into the vital holiday period convinced Jordan Rhodes can now play in any system required.
The 21-year-old frontman operated in a three at Sheffield Wednesday with Lee Novak in a key supporting role and delivered four goals to take his club tally to 19 in 20 matches for the season.
Scotland international Rhodes – who the club insist will not be sold during the January transfer window – has Chesterfield in his sights at the Galpharm on Monday before the Friday-night home date with Carlisle.
And Clark – who played alongside top international strikers like Alan Shearer and Andrew Cole – says Rhodes is being rewarded for a lot of hard work with his current run of form.
“There’s no danger we won’t be talking about Jordan in years to come because his finishing is right up there alongside the best of them,” said the manager, whose only injury absentees are goalkeeper Alex Smithies (knee) and midfielder Damien Johnson (hamstring).
“The only thing Jordan hasn’t done yet is produce that goalscoring form at the highest level, although he is starting to do it with the Scotland Under 21s.
“When I spoke to Craig Levein, the Scotland manager, about him earlier in the season I said that if they created chances for him Jordan would score, because the goals are the same size, the keepers are the same size and Jordan will put the ball in the back of the net.
“It’s about created chances with a player like Jordan, and that was the biggest disappointment of our last home game against Bournemouth. We have a player in his sort of form and yet we didn’t create anything for him.”
Clark says Rhodes has the ideal approach to his work, however.
“He has the unbelievable trait of not being bothered about missing sitters or what might seem easy chances,” he explained.
“It’s just water off a duck’s back and he goes for the next one – inevitably sticking it in the back of the net.
“And he can get better, no doubt about it, because he wants to get better and he wants to learn. He’s got a fantastic work ethic.
“There was a perfect instance last Saturday. The big question mark last season was whether Jordan could play in a different system – in a three.
“We felt there were perhaps one or two attributes he didn’t have for that and we talked about it to him as an individual in the de-brief at the end of the season.
“The same conversations were had with Billy Stark, his Under 21 manager, and Jordan went away in the summer and focused on that aspect of his game.
“Jordan came back and showed right from pre-season that he had made himself stronger and more of a physcial prospect – and he showed last Saturday that he can now play that role.
“He has taken on board what was being asked of him and now we can use him in all aspects of different formations.”