BLACKBURN Rovers boss Gary Bowyer has challenged young defender Adam Henley to come back flying in pre-season.
The 20-year-old, who missed the final six weeks of last season with an ankle injury, is currently Rovers’ only recognised right back.
But that will change if his manager gets his way. Bowyer has been scouring the market for a right back after deciding against re-signing Todd Kane on loan from Chelsea.
But even if he succeeds the Rovers chief will give Henley, who made his senior debut three years ago, every opportunity to ensure he starts the opening game of the Championship campaign at home to Cardiff on Friday, August 8.
“I think a lot of people forget how young Adam still is,” said Bowyer, whose players return to pre-season training next week. “He burst on to scene when he was 17 years old.
“I thought he did well in spells last seasons after coming back from a long injury.
“But what we need him to do now is have a full pre-season and come back flying. It’s up to him to get back in the team and start the season in that right back spot.”
After nine months on the sidelines with hamstring problems Henley made his return in December’s 0-0 draw at QPR. The Wales U21 international was outstanding that day, marking former Rovers winger Junior Hoilett out of the game.
But Henley failed to scale the same heights and he suffered a loss of form before sustaining ankle ligament damage in the 1-1 home draw with eventual champions Leicester in March.
Bowyer said: “The way Adam took care of Junior that day was particularly impressive.
“He’s got to build on that, show consistency and show the player we know he can be.”
Bowyer has been linked with a string of right backs with the latest being Bolton’s Alex Baptiste.
Rovers did enquire over Lee Peltier but did not follow up their interest and he has now signed for Huddersfield.