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All Rhodes lead to Middlesbrough in Premier League promotion push

Middlesbrough were shortened to 11/5 from 11/4 by Coral for Premier League promotion following their recapture of prodigal Riverside son Stewart Downing, and now the Teesside team are trying to make another serious statement of intent by pursuing Jordan Rhodes, one of Blackburn Rovers star strikers.

Boro have reportedly bid £12m for the Scotland frontman, which is £4m more than Lancashire outfit Rovers paid for secure his services from Huddersfield Town. Rhodes was prolific with the Terriers in League One and carried that form into the Championship.

After fellow Scotland forward Ross McCormack moved from Leeds United to Fulham for £11m last summer, second-tier transfers have reached eight figures before as the competition to get Premier League football becomes ever more cut-throat.

It has emerged that Rhodes is ‘unhappy’ that Middlesbrough’s bid was knocked back, and it appears he may be open to a cross-country switch amid clear interest from the Riverside outfit. “I have been advised by the club that they have rejected an offer from Middlesbrough for my services which was in excess of what Blackburn paid for me,” he said.

“I am ambitious and have never hidden my desire to play at the highest level possible and that was one of the reasons why I left Huddersfield Town for Blackburn.

“When I left Huddersfield I felt the timing was right in the next stage of my career and, having seen Middlesbrough’s performances last season in reaching the play-off final and their ambition this summer in terms of acquisitions, I would have liked to have been able to talk to them and I am unhappy at not being given that opportunity.”

Ambition drives both Rhodes and his suitors. Boro boss Aitor Karanka has lost two of his star forwards from last season with Patrick Bamford returning to parent club Chelsea and has now been loaned out to Crystal Palace, plus Belgium striker Jelle Vossen joined promotion rivals Burnley permanently.

Gibson played on the hometown hero heartstrings to secure Downing, who was more than willing to return six years after leaving. Czech Republic defender Tomas Kalas, meanwhile, is back on loan again from Chelsea with Karanka using his connections to Jose Mourinho again.

Odds of 6/1 say Middlesbrough can take the Championship title, and that price should shorten significantly if their raid for Rhodes eventually proves successful.