Five tackles, 13 clearances: West Ham loanee Doneil Henry shines on Blackburn debut

West Ham Upton Park

The 21-year-old Canadian defender put in an impressive shift to help the Championship side clinch a 2-1 win at Sheffield Wednesday.

West Ham United loanee Doneil Henry showcased his promise on Wednesday night for Blackburn Rovers, putting in an impressive debut shift at Sheffield Wednesday to help his side claim a 2-1 Championship win.

Having joined the club on a month-long loan earlier in the day, the 21-year-old centre-back went straight into the line-up for the match at Hillsborough, where first-half goals from Jordan Rhodes and Adam Henley put Gary Bowyer’s side in the driving seat.

Wednesday’s Chris Maguire pulled a goal back just after the hour, but Blackburn held on to claim the victory and move above their opponents into 10th-place in the table on 48 points.

Making his first senior appearance in English football since joining West Ham from Cypriot side Apollon Limassol in January, Henry handled himself extremely well on the night, managing to keep the imposing Atdhe Nuhiu in check, while making a match-leading 13 clearances over the course of the 90 minutes.

  TeamOutfielder BlocksTotal TacklesTotal ClearancesHeaders WonHeader SuccessInterceptionsTotal PassesPassing AccuracyMins Played
Doneil Henry Blackburn 1 5 13 4 40% 3 28 61% 90
Matthew Kilgallon Blackburn 2 1 10 1 50% 1 27 74% 90
Tom Lees Sheff Wed 0 0 6 6 46% 0 48 67% 90

His defensive numbers standing out among the other centre-backs who played the full 90 minutes, Blackburn manager Bowyer was full of praise for the Canada international at the final whistle, telling the club's official website:  "He got on a train at 1.30pm from London and arrived in Sheffield at four o'clock.

"He came and met the boys at 4.30pm, had some tea, did pre-match, got his tracksuit on, got on the bus and went and played a magnificent debut. That was his day.

"He deserves an unbelievable amount of credit. He's 21 years of age, he isn't 22 until April, but the way he just went about it was immense - absolutely immense - against one of the toughest strikers in the division in Nuhiu for the way he plays the game.

"He's a competitor, he's agressive, he is quick and he's a defender, you saw that," Bowyer continued. "The lad can play when he needs to and he's got an unbelievable character as well. I've said that all along about the people that we bring in, he's a top lad."

Henry, who has won 14 caps for Canada, made 70 MLS regular-season appearances for hometown club Toronto between 2010 and 2014, having played last season on loan from Limassol.

The promising defender's physical gifts were clear for all to see during his time at BMO Field, but his frequent mental errors often got him into trouble, having given away a league-leading five penalties in 2014 and lost his place in the line-up for the final run-in as a result.

Nevertheless, having been pegged as one of the top emerging talents in North America, he already seems to be reaping the benefits of his brief time in England and, based on last night's display, could certainly have a bright future at Upton Park.

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