Town have not replaced current goal-machine Rhodes

THE world of football is full of “ifs” and “buts,” and yet “IF” Jordan Rhodes was still an Ipswich Town player, then the chances are that Roy Keane would still be on the Portman Road hot-seat.

THE world of football is full of “ifs” and “buts,” and yet “IF” Jordan Rhodes was still an Ipswich Town player, then the chances are that Roy Keane would still be on the Portman Road hot-seat.

They say never have regrets, and never harp back to the past, but rarely a week goes by without Town fans, and probably Town’s hierarchy as well, getting a stark reminder of the potential match-winner that they allowed to leave.

Rhodes, the man not even given a chance to start a senior game with Town, is all set to return to Portman Road next season, in the colours of the club that were prepared to give him that opportunity – Huddersfield Town.

While Ipswich have experimented with a host of different strikers, over the last two years – Tamas Priskin, Pablo Counago, Jon Stead, Jon Walters, Daryl Murphy, David Healy, Stern John, Connor Wickham, Rory Fallon, Ronan Murray and Jason Scotland – reject Rhodes has been averaging nearly a goal every two games with the Terriers.

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In all, Rhodes has scored 43 goals, 33 of them in the league, over the last couple of seasons, despite a recent one-month absence with an ankle injury.

By comparison, the combined forces of those 11 strikers (listed above) have only totalled 57 goals (50 in the league) between them while donning a Town shirt.

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Keane decided never to give Rhodes a proper chance in the Championship - the 21-year-old merely had 10 appearances as a substitute, under previous boss Jim Magilton - and now it is up to his successor, Paul Jewell, to unearth the “next Jordan Rhodes.”

Sure, the 21-year-old front-man has scored all his goals at a level below the Championship, with those 43 goals netted from 94 outings in League One and Cup competitions, but it would be a brave man to predict that he couldn’t replicate that form in the second tier.

Rhodes is going from strength to at the Galpharm Stadium, and has already more than paid back the money spent on him believed to be in the region of (�600,000).

He made his debut for Scotland Under-21s only last Thursday, in the 1-0 defeat to Belgium, and followed this up just three days later by scoring a brace in Huddersfield’s 3-0 home win over Notts County.

The Terriers are now well established in the second automatic promotion slot, four points clear of third-placed Peterborough. Rhodes, then, looks set to gain his long-awaited start in the Championship next season.

Over at Portman Road, Jewell will be hoping that Wickham resists the temptation to leave this summer, and perhaps add at least one new striker to his books.

The Town boss has expressed an interest in West Brom front-runner Simon Cox, who has struggled to make an impact in the Premier League.

And of the other potential summer targets, Doncaster Rovers’ marksman Billy Sharp would appear to be a strong candidate.

Yet it is still impossible not to dream of what-might-have-been, if Town had held onto Rhodes during that summer of 2009.

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