Are the deadline day signings to make up numbers?

After taking a few days to reflect on the hectic deadline day Rovers had, @leehilton90 looks at if the signings were to just make up the numbers.

Deadline day deals
Rovers made three deadline day signings. Left to right: Rekeem Harper, Sam Hart and Paul Downing

Rovers’ transfer business came down to the last day of a busy window and teams were scrambling to bring players in.

Mowbray got a good chunk of his business done early on, but we were still light in one area. Fans were expecting at least 1 new addition and it was expected to be a centre back. So when we signed our 6th midfielder of the summer, I think fans were surprised. Obviously, Mowbray knew Feeney was exiting.

Rakeem Harper joined Rovers on a season long loan from West Brom. “He has a bright future ahead” are the words that echo throughout every interview about this 17-year-old – with Harper already making his Premier League debut for West Brom in the opening game of the season.

When Rovers announced the signing, I did wonder how much of a role he could play in the team. He certainly has enough competition for places when everyone is fit.

Harper brings a lot of energy and will run box to box all day. The youngster likes to play in a counter attacking way and I think Mowbray is looking to play that way.

Will he play? I think he will come off the bench. He has a ton of energy and will really cause problems against tired legs in the second half. That said, he could come in and be leaps and bounds ahead of what we have now. He will certainly challenge the likes of Gladwin and Whittingham from their performances so far.

But it’s going to be a huge test for the young lad and it depends on how he handles it. Away from home and out of his comfort zone, it can make or break a young player. How fast he can adjust is going to determine when he gets into the side.

In conclusion, it’s a good addition. I am looking forward to seeing him play and I think he will be the sort of player that wants to be involved in everything.

Then came another permanent signing, Sam Hart. The 20-year-old left back spent 6 months on loan in League One last season, with relegated Port Vale. However, he was recalled after being regularly played out of position.

That will be valuable experience for him as he looks to find some game time. The fact that he spent time playing as a winger last season means he has a much better chance of finding game time. As Williams is unlikely to give up his spot much in the league, as he tries to continue his consistent form from last season.

“I remember on my first day we did a little possession drill and four players came after me, just tring to kick me. They’re the games I kind of like – when it gets a bit scrappy, I like tackles. I kind of just fitted right into it.” – Sam Hart on his time at Port Vale.

Hart was a regular throughout his time in Liverpool’s youth setup. He made his senior debut last summer in a preseason game against Mainz before going on loan to Port Vale.
I think him being recalled shows that Liverpool was still interested in developing him. He seemed to be regarded as a decent player among the fans, so this deal may just have been in the best interest of his career.

Will he play? Having already had a taste of the League One battlegrounds, it gives him a head start. As for game time, he is going to have to work hard. Left back has a permanent name next to it when it’s printed out.

As for the left side of midfield, it all depends on how we line up. We have a lot of midfielders that will play in different positions, so it’s hard to see where he fits in. That’s if Mowbray wants to play him there.

We should be seeing him at Ewood on the 3rd October in the Checkatrade trophy. I’d be surprised if he makes a league appearance unless we get injuries. But again, we don’t know just how good he is yet.

In conclusion, I would say he is a backup to Williams and will be playing in cup games. It’s a good signing and may be needed in January, if the Player of the season curse continues.

At the announcement that a 3rd player was coming, Rovers fans were ecstatic. We were sure it was going to be a centre back this time and it was. Paul Downing joined us on a season long loan from MK Dons.

Unfortunately, on the face of it, this signing seemed very much a desperation signing after missing out on Ben Heneghan earlier in the night.

Fans immediately caught on to the fact he couldn’t even make the starting 11 for MK Dons when they came to Ewood last week.

But Downing had been a regular for them last season and for Walsall in the seasons before. But, with a new manager coming in December 2016, he has now had a chance to bring in his own players dropping Downing in the pecking order.

It’s a change for Downing, who has had plenty of playing time every season since joining Walsall back in 2012. It’s another addition that has worked with Mowbray at some point in their career.

Will he play? I think it’s fair to say that when everyone is fit he will find it hard to get a place on the match day squad. I see him fighting Wharton for a place and I hope Wharton can keep himself ahead.

In conclusion, I think this is to add numbers as right now we need them at centre back. He isn’t going to be getting into the squad ahead of Mulgrew or Lenihan and I’ll be surprised if he is battling Ward for the backup job.

But as I have said only time will tell. I hope they all get in and improve the team. I have faith that Mowbray knows what he is doing and all these additions will improve his squad.

Hopefully, the squad is strong enough to fight for the promotion that we all want to see in May!