Scoring past dad is Jordan's secret

JORDAN Rhodes has been sharpening up for tonight's FA Youth Cup clash at Aston Villa by whacking goals past his dad.

Derek Davis

JORDAN Rhodes has been sharpening up for tonight's FA Youth Cup clash at Aston Villa by whacking goals past his dad.

The young Blues striker has been gleaning as much information from dad Andy, Ipswich Town's goalkeeping coach, and leaving him floundering at times in extra sessions.

Rhodes said: “Having a goalkeeping coach as my dad helps as he tells me which way a keeper would react in a certain situation.

“I do a lot of finishing on the training ground every day with my dad helping.

“Quite a few of the lads do extra training and I like to work on my finishing with the keepers.

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“Depending on what game is on depends on which keeper it will be so there are lots of different options.

“My dad goes in goal sometimes and it is always good to beat him. I like to make him work, as with all the keepers, because if you don't then it means you are off target.”

Rhodes senior should not feel too bad at being beaten all ends up by his 17-year-old son - after all, the young striker has banged in 27 goals at different levels this season alone.

Rhodes junior reveals the secret to his success is his own endeavour and a constant supply of good service from midfield.

He said: “I put it down to hard work and dedication and the help I get from the players around me.

“The service is important and the sort of balls put in over the season from people like Jai (Reason), George (O'Callaghan) and Ed (Upson) who have been very good for me.

“That is half the job done when you get that sort of service.”

Having measured up to every challenge thrown at him this season, reserves, first team and playing senior football at Oxford United where he scored twice, Rhodes has strong confidence without any unpleasant arrogance.

He said: “I always believe I can score if I get my movement right. This season there have been a wide range of goals which is extra pleasing. Headers, left foot, right foot out of the area and close in so I'm pleased with that.

“The goal return is good but I'm also pleased with the way my link-up play with midfield has improved and my general contribution, although I know I still have a lot of work and developing to do.

“The ultimate aim for this year - by that I mean all of 2008 - is to work hard and get into the first team as a starter and score in the Championship. That's my aim.”

Town won through to Villa Park by beating Watford, with Rhodes nabbing a hat-trick, while Villa beat Colchester United 1-0 to ease through.

Rhodes said: “Aston Villa are a tough team that like to play good football like ourselves. I feel that the winner of our game will have a great chance of getting to at least the semi-final and maybe all the way.

“There is a lot for us to do before that and we will just concentrate on Wednesday at Villa Park. They have a classy centre-half and striker and the scouting report from Colchester told us that they could have won by three or four.”

Progress in the FA Youth Cup means a lot to these young players and Rhodes is aware of its importance to the club.

He added: “I was 15 the last time Ipswich won the FA Youth Cup when Ed (Upson) came off the bench to score a cracking goal to win it.

“It would be brilliant to replicate that in front of the sort of crowd they got that night. We know what the cup means and the tradition at this club and we use that as a spur.”