BLACKBURN Rovers boss Gary Bowyer is relishing working with Alex Baptiste for the first time today after ending his year-long pursuit of a defender he describes as ‘more than one player’.
Bowyer missed out on Bolton Wanderers to Baptiste’s signature last year and thought his hopes of signing him this summer were over after Dougie Freedman knocked back his initial approach.
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But Bolton boss Freedman changed his mind and the 28-year-old will now spend the whole of the 2014/15 campaign on loan at Ewood Park.
Baptiste, after playing for the Whites in Scandinavia on Thursday night, was not involved as Rovers kick started their pre-season preparations with a 4-0 win at non-league AFC Telford United on Saturday.
But the former Championship play-off winner with Blackpool, who can play full back and at centre back, will take part in training today as a week-long warm-weather camp in Portugal begins.
And Bowyer said: “I’m really looking forward to working with Alex.
“We’re delighted as he was somebody who when we first took over, we were probably a little bit late to getting in.
“But we’ve monitored him and kept an eye on him and we’ve got to be thankful for Dougie Freedman. He’s been fantastic about it all, allowing us to get it done.
“It’s been no secret we’ve felt we needed to strengthen our defence and in Alex we’re gaining more than one player. He can play anywhere across the back four.”
Despite making Baptiste his third summer signing Bowyer is still looking to boost his squad ahead of the big season opener at home to Cardiff City on Friday, August 8 with Norwich City goalkeeper Mark Bunn yesterday linked with a return to Rovers.
But the club must also continue to move players on and it is unlikely it would stand in the way of Ruben Rochina returning to Spain if one of the clubs in the forward’s homeland follow up their interest with a firm offer.
Rochina scored twice at Telford on Saturday while transfer-listed striker Leon Best was also on target in the comfortable victory.
And Bowyer said: “They are Blackburn Rovers players and we’ll keep working with them while they are contracted to the club.
“You saw the quality that they have got.”
Warming-up goalkeepers Jake Kean and Simon Eastwood on Saturday – Paul Robinson was back at Brockhall doing fitness work – was former Rovers number one John Filan.
The Australian, who made 75 appearances for the club between 1997 and 2001, was helping out after goalkeeping coach John Keeley picked up an injury.
Rovers played in unsponsored shirts on Saturday.
The club’s new home kit is scheduled for release on Thursday.
Last season Rovers’ shirts were sponsored by Regulatory Finance Solutions.