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Sport Opinion: Fresh player departure heaps more pressure on Blackburn Rovers with one particular contract negotiation

11:55  18 june  2021
11:55  18 june  2021 Source:   footballleagueworld.co.uk

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a group of people playing football on a field: Darragh Lenihan © Provided by Football League World Darragh Lenihan

After five-and-a-half years of exemplary service, Elliott Bennett’s time with Blackburn Rovers has now come to an end.

Since making the move to Ewood Park from Norwich City back in the 2016 January transfer window, Bennett has been a key figure for Rovers.

His ability and willingness to play in just about any position asked of him has been vital to the club’s ability to cope with any number of injury problems, while his leadership abilities have seen him become a huge help to the younger members of Rovers’ squad, both on and off the pitch.

Now though, that presence has gone from Ewood Park, with Bennett completing a move to League One side Shrewsbury Town, following the expiry of his Blackburn contract.

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Bennett is far from the only player to have left Rovers following the end of his deal with the club this summer, and with several more players out of contract at the Lancashire club this time next year, the departure of the 32-year-old now feels like it has emphasised the importance of the club securing an extended deal for one of those who is now entering the final year of their Ewood Park contract.

With injuries having restricted club captain Bennett to just nine appearances across the course of the 2020/21 campaign, it was centre back Darragh Lenihan who increasingly found himself taking on the role of matchday captain.

Indeed, that was a job the Irishman performed admirably, and despite some tricky moments, Lenihan, who is one of those now into the final year of his current Ewood Park deal, would end the season having been one of the more consistent and reliable performers for Tony Mowbray’s side last season.

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Throughout the campaign, Lenihan found himself playing alongside no fewer than six central defensive partners – Derrick Williams, Scott Wharton, Daniel Ayala, Jarrad Branthwaite, Taylor Harwood-Bellis and even Bradley Johnson – demonstrating both his adaptability, and own leadership abilities in helping those alongside him to get through a number of challenging situations.

Even at the age of 27, Lenihan is becoming an increasingly senior figure in this Blackburn side, only further enhanced by this confirmation of Bennett’s move elsewhere, which means that among Rovers’ current outfield players, only Johnson, Ayala and Bradley Dack are older than the centre back, and the latter by just a matter of months.

That is something that looks unlikely to change either, with Rovers seemingly placing an increased emphasis on youth and those progressing through their academy, just as Lenihan himself did almost a decade ago.

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As a result, it seems key that with so many young new faces closing in on their chance in the first-team, it seems crucial that Rovers keep Lenihan at Ewood Park, so that, just as he did this season with the likes of youngsters Wharton, Harwood-Bellis and Branthwaite, as well as the out of position Johnson, he can help those coming into Mowbray’s side adapt to their new surroundings under his leadership.

It seems therefore, that in a season where the contracts of seven current senior Blackburn players are set to expire, news of Bennett’s departure means has only further emphasised the point that the issue of a new deal for Lenihan at the club, is one that Rovers can ill afford to overlook.

Source

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