22 July 2024

Deal Agreed: Watford and Blackburn Rovers battle for Europe star £19m midfielder,

Hedges fires past Daniel Bachmann at Watford <i>(Image: Camerasport)</i>

Hedges fires past Daniel Bachmann at Watford (Image: Camerasport)

Man of the moment Ryan Hedges is determined to have another cup run ahead of Wednesday night’s clash with Harrogate.

 

Hedges got the decisive goal at Watford over the weekend, firing home from a tight angle after a lovely bit of skill.

 

“Beating Premier League opponents in both the League Cup and the FA Cup last year, it is something we want to be doing again,” said the 28-year-old, who is currently the oldest member of Jon Dahl Tomasson’s Rovers squad.

 

“The manager has touched on it, how big the cups can be. When we played Walsall, you had Dom Hyam coming off the bench, Harry Pickering, Harry Leonard and Dilan Markanday.

 

“They are really strong players to come on and see out the game, we don’t take any competitions lightly.”

 

Hedges is keen to keep contributing in the final third after his strike at Vicarage Road. His first Rovers goal also came against the Hornets nearly a year ago.

 

“I’ve played three games against Watford and have two goals, so maybe I should play against them more often,” he grinned. “I trusted my right foot and thankfully, it went in.

 

“I saw the defender coming so thought if I could chip it over him and lift it past him, I’d be away and be able to get myself set.

 

“I have to back myself a lot more, but I remember looking up, seeing nobody else in the box and realising it was my only option.

 

“I back my ability and I know what I can do and I’ve got to keep adding more goals and assists to my game.”

 

Lancashire Telegraph: Hedges celebrates with his team-mates at Vicarage Road

Hedges celebrates with his team-mates at Vicarage Road (Image: Camerasport)

 

With a tricky league fixture at Plymouth coming up at the weekend, Rovers are set to make a number of changes against Harrogate.

 

Zak Gilsenan and Jake Garrett both got on the scoresheet against Walsall in the opening round, and Hedges hopes the club’s young talent can continue to make an impact.

 

“I wouldn’t say we are stretched but looking at the bench in the league, there are probably stronger benches than ours,” he continued.

 

“We do have a lot of youngsters in and around the first team, which other teams probably don’t. But that is something our club and the Academy is really good at.

 

Adam (Wharton) is a great example, Ash (Phillips) as well. There is no reason why these young players can’t go on and replicate their success.”

 

It is extremely rare for a player to be the most experienced member of the squad at 28 years of age, but that is now the case for the Welshman.

 

“The senior lads are trying to share that responsibility – myself, Dom Hyam, (Gally) Sam Gallagher, Sammie Szmodics and (Trav) Lewis Travis.

 

“We are experienced as senior players and we have got to show the younger lads what is expected at this football club and be role models.

 

“I have still got plenty of years left in my career, hopefully at this club and at a really good level.

 

“With the squad being so small and with so many youngsters, it is up to the senior players to show what it means to be a Blackburn Rovers player and lead by example.”

 

There has been plenty of speculation over potential incomings at Ewood Park heading into the final days of the window.

 

Hedges hopes more new faces will arrive to bolster the squad but insists they are just remaining focused on the upcoming matches.

 

When asked if he pays attention to rumours and gossip, the former Aberdeen man replied: “I try to keep myself off social media, I don’t think it’s the greatest of tools.

 

“Obviously, as a squad we want to have better players and more players. Injuries are bound to happen and you want to be strengthened.

 

“You want to be challenging at the top end of the table and I’m sure bringing in better players will help us do that.

 

“We want players just as much as probably the fans and everyone else looking in from the outside.

 

“The manager has touched on it again that he wants reinforcements. Looking at names and things like that, we will probably find out as they are training with us.”

 

Several players are currently sidelined by injury, but Hedges is staying optimistic and believes it is an opportunity for others to prove they can be relied upon.

 

“That is something that is really big here, we have got such a good culture and a tight-knit squad,” he added.

 

“If someone is missing for a few games or a few weeks, somebody else can step in and show what they can do. It gives others opportunities to come in and make a name for themselves.”

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