Father figure role is perfect for Judge
IT has been an eventful first season back at Blackburn Rovers for Alan Judge.
The 24-year-old started the campaign as a key component in Gary Bowyer’s side.
But after being dropped to the bench for the 4-1 home win over Bolton Wanderers the skilful Irish midfielder has struggled to get back into his manager’s starting line-up.
That Judge was left out against Bolton was not down to his performances.
Indeed the week before he had put in an excellent display as Rovers thrashed Barnsley 5-2.
It was more to do with the fact that the Dubliner had become a father for the first time in the lead up to the match.
Since then Judge has had to work hard to force his way back into Bowyer’s plans as well as adapting to life as a parent.
But his determination to reclaim a first-team spot was rewarded last weekend when he was picked to play behind lone striker Jordan Rhodes in the 2-2 derby draw at Blackpool.
Judge was pleased with his first start since that victory over Barnsley back on August 24.
And should he retain his place in the team for today’s visit of Middlesbrough to Ewood Park, he will be doing his upmost to make his mark.
“It was nice to play a game again,” said Judge, who re-signed for Rovers in the summer after a successful spell at Notts County.
“I’d been looking forward to it for a while so I was delighted to play.
“It’s frustrating. You’ve got tons of players here – Dunny (David Dunn), Ruben (Rochina), DJ (Campbell) and Besty (Leon Best) all wanting to play up front and then you’ve got Jordan. So I’ve got to bide my time.
“I’ve just been training as hard as I can and hopefully now I’ve had my chance I can stay in the team.
“I felt I did okay. It was my first game back for a while and I was blowing a bit after the first 10 minutes.
“But when I got used to the tempo I enjoyed it a lot.”
Judge felt Rovers fully deserved a share of the spoils against high-flying Blackpool.
But he does not believe their current mid-table position reflects the way they have played this season.
“It’s frustrating for the lads, especially with some of the football we’re playing,” said Judge, who came through the Rovers ranks before being allowed to leave for Notts County in January 2011.
“We’ve still got a lot of new players, we’re still coming together but we’re not getting the rub of the green.
“Certain penalties have been given against us when we have been winning – and then there are the injury setbacks. Corry Evans I think is a massive miss, so hopefully he’ll be back soon enough.
“It’s just the rub of the green for us at the moment.
“I think everybody can see how well the players are playing and how much they want to play for the club.”
Rovers will bid to close the gap on the play-off places with victory over managerless Middlesbrough this afternoon.
Boro – under the control of caretaker manager Mark Venus – won their first match since Tony Mowbray was sacked when they beat Doncaster Rovers 4-0 last Friday.
Judge said: “Middlesbrough have just lost their manager but had a great result against Doncaster.
“You could get a backlash to that and teams that lose their managers usually have a good reaction.
“We’ve got to make sure we’re on top on Saturday.”
Judge was a sought-after free agent in the summer after his contract with Notts County ran out.
He was in talks with Rovers’ Championship rivals Ipswich Town before his former club came calling.
Judge said: “I had a good start and then had the birth of my baby girl so it’s been a great time.
“Obviously it’s been a bit frustrating at not playing but I’ve been working hard, keeping my head down, and I’ve had my chance and now I’ve got to make sure I take it.”
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