IN-form Blackburn Rovers defender Alex Baptiste may only be six weeks into his season-long loan from Championship rivals Bolton Wanderers but he has already made his mind up – he doesn’t want to go back.
Baptiste is loving life at Ewood Park after a testing first season at the Macron Stadium where he was mostly played out of position at left back.
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And the 28-year-old would have no hesitation in joining Rovers permanently next summer if the club is in the position to.
Baptiste said: “It’s fantastic, I love the place.
“The staff and the fans have been absolutely fantastic, I feel at home here, I couldn’t have asked for a better club.
“I don’t want to go back!
“I can definitely see a future here.
“The staff have been fantastic, the manager has been unbelievable, and I’m really enjoying my football again, which for the past 18 months I’ve haven’t done.
“I am smiling again.
“I know it is early doors and I’ve still got to prove myself, but if I could sign here then, yes, I’d snap their hands off.”
The versatile Baptiste was signed by Rovers boss Gary Bowyer, pictured, with a view to playing right back.
However the former Premier League star has impressed in his natural position at centre back after Matt Kilgallon – who will hope to be in contention for Saturday’s trip to Wolves – came off halfway through the season opener at home to Cardiff City at the start of the month with a back injury.
But Baptiste, who was desperately unlucky to give away a penalty in last weekend’s 3-2 home win over Bournemouth, is not taking his place for granted.
He said: “I haven’t played centre half for a good 18 months but I feel it’s my best position.
“I feel as if I’m playing okay but you are only as good as your last game – and the last game I gave away a penalty!
“So it’s just a case of continuing to work hard and prepare for a big game at Wolves.”
Rovers’ preparations for the trip to Molineux are including Jordan Rhodes after owners Venky’s rejected Hull City’s attempts to sign the prolific striker.
With Venky’s refusing to budge from their stance – to the frustration of the Tigers – Baptiste says it is his up to and him and his team-mates to help Rhodes get to the Premier League by winning promotion.
“He’s the best finisher in the Championship, every season he gets 25-30 goals, so we’d be delighted to keep him,” said Baptiste, who played in the top flight with Blackpool.
“He deserves to play in the Premier League and our job is to help to get him there.
“That’s our main aim and if Jordan is part of it, that would be unbelievable.”
Bowyer yesterday returned from India following his pre-planned meeting with Venky’s.
On arriving back at Brockhall Bowyer held talks with Rovers managing director Derek Shaw – who did not make the trip to Pune – about the club’s plans for the final six days of the transfer window.
So far this summer Bowyer has been restricted to two free transfers, Chris Brown and Luke Varney, and loan signing Baptiste.