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First Team

Hot Off The Press: Blackburn Rovers

Rich Sharpe of the Lancashire Telegraph previews Rovers

21 February 2020

At the time of writing, Blackburn sit eighth in the Championship with 33 games played. How would you sum up the season so far, as the final months approach?

They were coming in to some real form towards the end of 2019, with five wins and a draw from six matches, before Bradley Dack picked up a season-ending injury against Wigan two days before Christmas. Since then, Rovers have lost eight players to injury, mainly in the attacking areas, and that has hit them hard. After finishing 15th last season with 60 points, manager Tony Mowbray wanted to push towards 70 and the top six this year. They look on course for improving on last season.

Late last year Rovers were ticking along towards the play-offs, having embarked on a, largely undetected, eight-match unbeaten run. How would you rate their chances of reaching the top six at this stage?

I think they are definitely in the mix, being just three points off the play-off positions at the time of speaking, but with the injuries, would be seen as outsiders. If they can take it down to the wire, then who knows? At the start of the season I thought they’d finish inside the top 10, but just miss out on the play-offs, and think that may be how it plays out. There is still plenty of football to be played, however.

Losing Bradley Dack just before Christmas was one thing, but earlier in February Lewis Holtby was ruled out for the season, too. How much of a blow has it been losing two important attacking outlets?

Sam Gallagher and Joe Rothwell are two more attackers who have been out recently, and that has really ramped up the onus on Adam Armstrong. But he’s taken his chance to become the main man, scoring a screamer in the win over Hull earlier this month, and has had more goal involvements in 2020 than any other Championship player. Replacing Dack was never going to be easy, given his talent and weight of goals. Holtby made a promising start to life at Ewood Park before his injury, but Armstrong has really stepped up to the mark.

Which player should Brentford be keeping an eye on on Saturday afternoon?

As mentioned above, Armstrong has become a real standout performer in 2020, his pace and shooting from distance have become a key part of this side, as has the passing out from the back of Manchester City loanee Tosin Adarabioyo.

How is Tony Mowbray likely to set up his side in west London?

Rovers aren’t a team to sit back, but will be keen to avoid leaving gaps for Brentford to exploit. They are fast starters, and will look to start at a high intensity. They have generally been 4-2-3-1 under Mowbray, but that has become more difficult of late with the injuries.

What’s your score prediction for Blackburn’s final Championship visit to Griffin Park?

I’d snap your hand off for a 0-0.


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