Hull City v Blackburn: Steve Agnew 'so proud' of nephew Jordan Rhodes - but hopes he has a quiet game
WHEN the weekly scouting reports landed on Steve Agnew's desk yesterday morning, Hull City's assistant manager could have been spared the details outlining Blackburn Rovers' greatest threat tonight.
As a proud uncle to Jordan Rhodes, Agnew has spent two decades monitoring the Blackburn striker's every step through infancy and into professional football.
Tonight will see family bonds tested for the first time as Rhodes attempts to derail his Uncle Steve's promotion plans at the KC Stadium, and Agnew is well aware of the threat posed by the prolific Scotland international.
"Jordan's a great kid," he told the Mail. "He's humble, he's driven and knows exactly what he wants from football.
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"He's done terrifically well over the last few years and that's down to his focus.
"I wish him all the luck in his career, just not tonight!"
Agnew admits there will be mixed emotions when he looks upon Rhodes as an opponent for the first time.
The Tigers' assistant boss recalls Jordan and his younger brother Lewis spending endless summer holiday hours kicking a football around the garden with his son, Dominic, as he looked on with former Barnsley team-mate Andy Rhodes, husband to Agnew's sister Linda.
The boy has become a man. And one to watch very closely this evening.
"The three boys would always be kicking footballs around during the school holidays so I've been watching Jordan for years," explained Agnew.
"Because of my career and Andy's career, we didn't really live close but we'd always get together when we could during the holidays.
"I suppose I'm the proud uncle, I've always taken an interest in how he's getting on.
"I'm chuffed to bits with how his career's gone. He's worked hard and now he's getting all the rewards.
"He did ever so well at Huddersfield and he's taken that on to the next level with Blackburn and Scotland."
Much to Agnew's delight, Rhodes has been a goalscoring sensation since announcing himself as a rising star with Huddersfield Town in League One.
A staggering return of 87 goals from 148 appearances for the Terriers made a mockery of Ipswich Town's decision to sell in 2009 for £350,000 and earned him an £8m switch to Blackburn in August.
The golden touch has not deserted Rhodes and when he arrives at the KC tonight he will attempt to annoy Agnew by adding to his wonderful haul of 22 goals in league and cup competitions during 2012-13.
If a trip to Sheffield Wednesday last season is anything to go by, Rhodes will have no hesitation upsetting Agnew either.
The 23-year-old plundered all four goals in Huddersfield's 4-4 draw at Sheffield Wednesday last season – much to the frustration of his father Andy, the goalkeeping coach at Hillsborough. Family ties are easily sacrificed it seems.
"We don't want that happening to us that's for sure," laughed Agnew ahead of tonight's game.
"A goalscorer is a goalscorer no matter what the level so I've not been surprised to see how well Jordan has done in the Championship. You give him a chance and he'll take it.
"But if we can perform to our best and concentrate on our own game, there's no reason why we can't keep Jordan quiet."