Blackburn Rovers have been busy in the transfer market early on with three new signings through the door.
With two weeks of the window gone, Gregg Broughton has added a trio of fresh faces to Jon Dahl Tomasson’s ranks. Niall Ennis, Sondre Tronstad and Arnor Sigurdsson all strengthened areas that were weakened by summer departures.
Players and managers always speak about the importance of competition in the dressing room. It keeps players competitive and on their toes, driving the best from them.
The new additions at Rovers will do just that, increasing competition for places ahead of the new season. The players that performed admirably last year want to prove they can be the men for the job again next season.
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Blackburn are working to sign another centre-back after the exit of Daniel Ayala. Broughton told Lancs Live in May that the club would look to replace the Spaniard to supplement the five centre-backs in the squad, including Sam Barnes.
It’s understood that Rovers would like any new defensive addition to offer cover in multiple positions, particularly left-back. With Tayo Edun expected to leave, that makes Harry Pickering the only senior option in that role.
However, the signing of any left-sided defender will increase competition for Scott Wharton. The homegrown defender signed a new long-term contract with the club earlier this year but saw his minutes dry up at the end of last season.
Hayden Carter’s development and partnership with Dom Hyam made the pair undroppable, leaving Wharton with no path into the team after recovering from injury. He was left out of the matchday squad in the final weeks of the season with Ash Phillips and Ayala preferred on different occasions.
Wharton had a fantastic season under Tony Mowbray in 2021/22 and was reliable in the first half of last season. However, after being surprisingly dropped for the Burnley game at Turf Moor, his form never seemed to recover. In truth, it was a decision that still doesn’t make much sense.
A break and a full pre-season will, hopefully, provide a timely reset for Wharton. A new left-sided addition would undoubtedly give more competition but it’s a challenge he’ll want to meet.
In midfield, Tronstad’s arrival will increase competition for places, even with the exit of Tyler Morton. Although stylistically he is arguably more of a match for Lewis Travis, the new signing poses a challenge to John Buckley too.
The midfielder’s season was cruelly curtailed in March whilst he was enjoying his best run in the team. Until then, his season had been stop-start with a period out of the team.
On his day, Buckley is one of the best players Blackburn have. He has the potential to play in the Premier League if he can unlock his best form on a more consistent basis.
But the emergence of Adam Wharton has undoubtedly added pressure on the 23-year-old. The teenager feels undroppable, based on last year’s end-of-season form, although Tomasson has shown nobody gets that luxury at Rovers.
The increased competition will hopefully bring the best from Buckley. He’s fit again and after a full pre-season programme, will be ready to challenge for a starting berth again.
In attack, Tyrhys Dolan showed glimpses that he is ready to fill the void left by Ben Brereton Diaz. The 21-year-old perhaps proved that the left side of the attack is his best position.
Dolan impressed in Rovers’ best run of the season during February, playing in that role with Brereton Diaz initially sidelined through injury. His form then wained towards the end of the campaign and he lost his place in the side.
He finished the season with 13 goal contributions, a tally only Brereton Diaz could better, though. He stood up when the Chilean was out and did stake his claim to be the man to fill his shoes.
Sigurdsson’s arrival provides genuine competition for Dolan if he wants to be the main man from the left, as he has previously stated. Both Sigurdsson and Dolan can play in multiple positions and so the two could thrive together too.
In attack, Rovers have signed Ennis and want another striker before September 1. That will ease the goal-scoring burden on Sam Gallagher.
The striker was overrelied on last season, particularly towards the end of the season with no alternatives. Ennis at least gives Tomasson another senior option in attack.
Gallagher’s physical attributes make him an asset for any Championship side. He has the athleticism and work rate to be a nuisance. Often, those parts of his skillset are overlooked.
Equally, there is no doubt he would like to score goals. Gallagher has not unlocked the predatory side of his game yet and can be better at sniffing out those chances in the six-yard box. He is a confidence player.
The signing of Ennis should help Gallagher to be a bigger goal threat next season. He won’t be overworked and can be rotated more frequently, keeping him fresher and fitter for Rovers.