Boro made a real splash in January, bringing in Rhodes from Blackburn Rovers for a hefty fee as boss Aitor Karanka seeks added firepower in side’s bid to earn automatic promotion.
Hull are currently Boro’s biggest rival for top spot, and Tigers boss Bruce admits he was impressed with the Teesside club’s January transfer business as he assesses the Championship promotion race.
“Rhodes is a wonderful signing for Middlesbrough. The lad scores goals. He’s already repaid some of his fee with an equaliser down at MK Dons,” Bruce explained.
“There’s 15 games to go and from what I can see of the Championship it’s still up in the air. A month ago Middlesbrough were seven points clear with a game in hand and all of a sudden they’re two points behind us. That’s how quickly it can change."
The Championship has been a rollercoaster ride for supporters of the teams fighting for promotion, and contrasting forms has seen two teams in particular make plenty of headlines.
Derby County are winless in eight, and earlier this month dismissed head coach Paul Clement.
Losing form is becoming an all-too familiar tale for the Rams’ supporters, yet Sheffield Wednesday on the other hand are in superb form and Bruce feels they are now genuine challengers.
Bruce added: “I don’t think anyone envisaged Derby falling off the pace like they have. Have they still got a part to play? Possibly, we'll see. They’re still in there I'd say.”
"You look at Sheffield Wednesday as well. They’re on a hell of a run with the boy Gary Hooper scoring goals so there's a few you can't rule out at this stage of the season."
The Owls have made some super signings this season, with Fernando Forestieri, Gary Hooper and Barry Bannan really starting to blossom at Hillsborough and impress the club’s supporters.
Picking a top two at this stage, especially with Burnley in great form too, is an almost impossible task and only the most consistent between now and May will be rewarded with the ultimate prize of promotion.