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Sandro Wagner set for amazing summer three years after Leeds, Forest and Blackburn interest

Sandro Wagner is now a Germany and Bayern Munich star.

Mathew Nash

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Photo: Getty Images

When the World Cup begins in the summer, one nation will be the favourites to retain their crown. Germany will be hotly tipped to win the competition again, four years after their triumph in Brazil.

If they do so, the performances of Sandro Wagner could be key.

The languid striker is looking to book his place on the plane to Russia after a January move to Bayern Munich from Hoffenheim.

If he was to spearhead the German attack in Russia, it would certainly shock some Football League fans.

Back in August 2015 it was being reported that Leeds United, Blackburn Rovers and Nottingham Forest were all chasing the signature of Wagner – as reported by German publication Sport Bild.

(Photo by Karim Jaafar/AFP/Getty Images)

Leeds United’s manager at the time was Uwe Rosler. The German connection was clear and Leeds were hunting for striking reinforcements.

Nottingham Forest were looking for striking options as Britt Assombalonga was out of action with a serious knee injury.

Blackburn were preparing for the worst as Jordan Rhodes was heavily linked with a move away at the time. The club had already lost Rudy Gestede to Aston Villa that summer.

Wagner, remained in Germany and the story since has been one of an incredible rise. Instead of heading to Leeds, Forest or Blackburn the striker headed to newly promoted Bundesliga side Darmstadt. There he scored 15 goals in 34 games, securing a move to Hoffenheim the following summer.

18 impressive months at the Rhein-Neckar-Arena followed, which included a first Germany cap. The 30-year-old has since scored five goals in seven appearances for his country. He is now hotly tipped to be in the Germany side for Russia 2018 after securing a dream return to boyhood club Bayern Munich in Germany.

(Photo by Christof Stache/AFP/Getty Images)

Leeds signed Chris Wood that summer, a deal that proved beneficial in a footballing and financial sense. Forest have yet to find their goalscoring replacement for Assombalonga. Blackburn did lose Rhodes that season and dropped out of the Championship the following campaign.

This summer, it will be three years since Leeds, Forest and Blackburn made enquiries to sign the imposing centre-forward.

In the time since, Wagner has proven himself a top striker and is playing for one of the biggest clubs in world football. If he lines up for Germany in Russia, many fans of the trio of Football League clubs who missed out will wonder what might have been

Wagner on the other hand will be pleased with his career choices.

Sports journalist based in Bristol. Previously spent five years writing for HITC Sport. Everton fan for my sins.

Blackburn Rovers

With Blackburn not keen on permanent deal what next for Marcus Antonsson?

Leeds United loaned the Swede out to Blackburn Rovers this season.

Mathew Nash

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When Leeds United signed Marcus Antonsson in the summer of 2016 there was excitement over his arrival. The Swedish striker had been scoring goals for fun back in his homeland. Upon his arrival, he was the Allsvenskan top-scorer with former club Kalmar.

Leeds were obviously hoping he could repeat such form in West Yorkshire. They paid a fee reported by the Yorkshire Evening Post to be in the region of £2 million for his services.

But he struggled at Leeds. Just one goal in 16 Championship appearances and niggling injury trouble saw him fall down the pecking order at Elland Road.

(Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

Then, last summer, he found himself loaned out to Blackburn Rovers of League One.

It has been a season of two halves for the Swede. He enjoyed a good start to the campaign. He even found a new niche as a left-sided striker in a front three. In November he was named the League One Player of the Month and Blackburn would have been pleased with his progress.

However, he picked up a knee injury in December and then found himself under pressure from Newcastle United loanee Adam Armstrong. In the end, he finished the season with eight goals from 34 appearances, with his last strike coming in a 4-2 win against Blackpool back in November.

(Photo by Pete Norton/Getty Images)

According to the Lancashire Telegraph, the Swede’s loan deal at Ewood Park contained a seven-figure buy-out should the club decide they want him permanently. But the report seems to suggest Blackburn will be moving on to different targets.

So what next for the Leeds striker?

It appears a permanent switch to Blackburn is not on the cards. Does he have a long-term future at Leeds? It does not appear so, but perhaps Paul Heckingbottom will see things differently.

The new boss has yet to work with the Swedish striker and it could be he likes what he sees from the 27-year-old in the summer.

If not, then Leeds will struggle to find a permanent buyer for his services, given his minimal impact in the English game.

For Antonsson it appears he must either impress Heckingbottom or find himself a new loan destination for next season.

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Blackburn Rovers

Three things learnt from Southend United’s opening day win over Blackburn Rovers

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Southend

Blackburn Rovers were in for a shock on their League One debut as they were blown away by a strong Southend United side at Roots Hall.

1,600 travelling fans made the journey south, but it took only 28 minutes for Southend to open the scoring as Ryan Leonard found space at the far post to rifle the ball home.

Matters went from bad to worse for Tony Mowbray when Michael Kightly, previously of Burnley and making his second debut for Southend, scored again ten minutes later.

Rovers dominated early in the second half, Charlie Mulgrew pulling one back from a free-kick, but they failed to mount any real challenge and the Shrimpers comfortably saw the result out.

Here is what The Boot Room learnt from the game…

Phil Brown’s side are contenders

Blackburn’s starting eleven will be one of the strongest in League One this year, on paper at least, but Southend played them off the park. With only two shots on target, they prevented them from posing a real attacking threat and hit them on the counter with a devastating impact.

Michael Kightly and Stephen Hendrie both enjoyed fine returns for second spells at Roots Hall, but Brown was without many key players too. After a quality performance like this, and with the additions of the injured Anthony Wordsworth, Michael Turner and Ben Coker, with Rob Kiernan also building fitness having signed this week and Nile Ranger expected out of prison soon, it could be a strong season for the Shrimpers.

Life won’t be easy in League One for Blackburn

Tony Mowbray’s side really struggled at Roots Hall, with the manager’s stubbornness partly to blame. His refusal to change the system didn’t help matters as Southend continued to exploit their weaknesses, spreading the ball wide whenever possible.

Charlie Mulgrew did his best to save the side, with his excellent free-kick clawing them back into the game, but it was of little consolation in the end. The Scot showed the kind of commitment and desire that has been lacking at Rovers for too long. New signings like the woeful Bradley Dack should take note.

Ryan Leonard is worth keeping hold of

Amid intense speculation linking him with Millwall and Sheffield United, as the Independent reports, Ryan Leonard showed exactly why the Blues want to keep him around. Leonard made it clear that he was committed and would give his all to the club until any potential move, opening the scoring with a darting far post run to volley home.

Alongside Michael Timlin, the duo bossed the midfield and left Rovers chasing them for scraps. It’s clear to see why Championship sides are interested in the number 18, but even clearer just how important he is to Phil Brown’s set-up.

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Blackburn Rovers

How will Blackburn Rovers cope in their first season in League One?

The Boot Room

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Blackburn Rovers

It was a dramatic final day to say the least in the 2016/17 EFL Championship season, with Blackburn, Bristol City and Birmingham City under the microscope as they fought to retain their Championship status. It turned out to be a day to forget in the history of Blackburn Rovers football club. Despite an impressive 1-3 victory at Griffin Park, Birmingham and Bristol City did what they had to do, and so Tony Mowbray’s side were relegated.

Blackburn join the list of ‘big clubs’ to fall into the third tier of English football in recent years; a club that spent so many years in the Premier League, and of course one of just six clubs to win the title. The glory days of Chris Sutton and Alan Shearer are long gone at Ewood Park though, and Tony Mowbray has a task on his hands to restore some pride into the town of Blackburn.

One thing you can guarantee with League One is that it’s a league that can suck you in as a club if you do not get promoted at the first time of asking. Indeed, many clubs who were most likely under the illusion that promotion would be a simple task have failed. Look no further than Sheffield United, Portsmouth, Charlton Athletic, Blackpool – all clubs that have been there in the big time like Blackburn Rovers.

If Blackburn were to take a look at the recent clubs to be promoted from the division in recent years, all those teams had a goalscorer. Last season Billy Sharp scored for fun pretty much every week for the Blades, Millwall had the prolific partnership of Lee Gregory and Steve Morison to thank, too.

Blackburn have a striker that produced in the Championship, so Danny Graham is going to be a real key player once again for Blackburn this season you would imagine. With the additions Mowbray has made, it would be a surprise if Graham didn’t find the net regularly, with some real quality being brought into the midfield.

Peter Whittingham, the long servant of Cardiff City made the switch to Ewood Park this summer, a player with a wand of a delivery in his left boot. Ben Gladwin, despite struggling in the Championship, has produced in League One before and, under the right management, could prove to be a key player.

The one signing that should stand out for Rovers fans is Bradley Dack, a real flair player that perhaps Blackburn have been crying out for in midfield. Dack has had a couple of impressive seasons in League One and will know all about the division’s defences and how to hurt them. Another signing made more recently is Dominic Samuel, a young player with bags of pace up front. A different kind of striker to Graham, but undoubtedly an effective one too.

On paper Blackburn have a squad that, without a doubt, should be challenging at the summit. However, as League One has seen time and time again, the quality of a squad on paper doesn’t guarantee success on the pitch. Rovers will need more than that. They will need togetherness, willingness, determination.

The Blackburn fans have seen managers come and go rather frequently in recent times, so it is important the club sticks with Tony Mowbray, an experienced head who should be someone the fans can get behind and warm to.

The start to the season will also be important. The last thing a club like Blackburn wants is to lose the first few games, with confidence taking a hit, along with morale and enthusiasm among the supporters.

It is just five days until they make the trip to Roots Hall to take on Southend United, and the fans that are making the four-and-a-half hour trip will be hoping for the perfect start, in what is a new era for Blackburn Rovers.

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