Nikola Kalinic could be the answer to Blackburn’s prayers

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Let’s be honest with ourselves – life for a striker at Ewood Park is difficult at the best of times.

The fact that Rovers’ top scoring striker last season was Jason Roberts with a meagre five goals speaks volumes for the struggle on the front line.

The form of forwards can be based very much on confidence, meaning that taking the few chances that arrive to you is important – especially in the Premier League.

And one man who is certainly thanking his lucky stars in a Blackburn shirt of late is young striker Nikola Kalinic, who has already equalled his disappointing goal tally from last season.

Kalinic endured a difficult first season in English football at Ewood Park, signed with the weight of expectations after a £6 million move from Croatian side Hadjuk Split last summer.

Indeed, it never helps when your national coach labels you the ‘future of Croatian football’ either. A huge compliment it was from Slaven Bilic, however, and one that appears to mirror the faith shown in the 22-year-old by Rovers boss Sam Allardyce.

Kalinic was handed the coveted number nine shirt at the beginning of the campaign, which granted may mean little given the lack of strikers on the books at Blackburn this season, but nevertheless represents confidence.

The young Croatian has mastered the art of punishing errors so far this season, embarrassing Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard on the opening day of the season with what proved to be the winning goal at Goodison Park.

Kalinic was again on hand to earn Rovers a useful point at Manchester City on Saturday, this time benefiting from a comical error in communication between Joe Hart and Kolo Toure to finish off into an empty net.

Of course you would expect him to score simple opportunities, but the fact of the matter is that he did and his goals have earned Blackburn their only points of the campaign so far. Kalinic was in the right place at the right time, and that is all you can ask of your striker.

Of course, having a refreshed striker partner this term will ultimately help his cause. The capture of Manchester United youngster Mame Biram Diouf on loan for the season was necessary, and provides Rovers with the pace up front they have lacked for some time.

Goals will be difficult to come by for all of Blackburn’s forwards this season given Allardyce’s hard to love but effective tactics, but a little more clinical nous in front of goal should not be too much to ask from Rovers’ forwards this term.

For Kalinic, his two goals in four matches so far should be the confidence boost he needs to kick on from last season’s disappointment. Nobody is expecting miracles or overnight success by any means, but a likely run of first team starts should see some kind of return from Croatia’s young hope.

Disclaimer: The views in this article are that of the writer and may not replicate those of the Professional Footballers' Association.
Blackburn Rovers
Nikola Kalinic
Premier League

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