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First Team

Hot Off The Press: Blackburn Rovers

Andy Bayes of BBC Radio Lancashire previews Rovers

11 March 2021

Owing to a run of six defeats from seven throughout February and into early March, Blackburn have quickly slipped away from play-off contention and sit 14th in the Championship table following Tuesday’s draw with Swansea. What have you made of the past few months, from a Rovers perspective?

It’s been a difficult run and one that has cost them dearly in terms of their promotion ambitions. They’ve had problems all season at centre-back. The issues got worse when Scott Wharton ruptured his Achilles at Brentford in December. Daniel Ayala hasn’t been available anywhere near as much as they’d have liked and the same for Derrick Williams, who has now joined LA Galaxy. They’ve had 9 or 10 players unavailable throughout the run; not always the same nine or 10, but it hasn’t allowed for any consistency in the changes. Simply, they’ve conceded some cheap goals and haven’t made the most of dominating possession in a lot of the games that they lost.

Towards the end of February, Tony Mowbray said: “I don’t sit here fighting for my job, I don’t sit here in fear.” Given the recent downturn in form, how much pressure is he currently under and will he be given the chance to turn things around?

I’ve no idea, to be completely honest. Tony Mowbray has been in the job for four seasons and following promotion back to the Championship, it’s been steady year-on-year improvement. At the moment, they are some way behind last season’s points tally at the same point in the campaign.  But, players are slowly returning to fitness. Mowbray has always said: “If the owners tell me my time is over, that’s fine” - to try and second guess the thoughts of the owners is a pretty pointless process. In non-Covid times, they have the manager over to India at the end of every season for a debrief and future planning meetings. I suppose the outcome of those meetings will determine the way forward.

Bradley Dack has returned to action in the last few months and has a couple of goals under his belt now, too. Though he may not have reached his pre-injury performance levels yet, how positive has it been to have a player of his calibre back in the squad?

He’s such an important player to have back around the team. He’ll be more frustrated than anyone that top form hasn’t come his way just yet. There were signs in the win at Millwall, where he scored one and should have been given a penalty for a second that the old sharpness was coming back. We’ll probably see him back at full tilt next season after a pre-season with the team.

Which player should Brentford fans be keeping an eye on on Friday night?

Adam Armstrong has had an excellent season, though he might not be fit to face Brentford. In his place in the win at Millwall was Tyrhys Dolan who was excellent on the day. He’s an exciting talent, quick, skilful, you can expect the unexpected from him. Liverpool loanee Harvey Elliott (above) has also impressed in his first full season of senior football. Loads of potential and quality about him.

How is Mowbray likely to set up his side at Ewood Park?

He always sets up to try and win and take the game to the opposition. Rovers have had more possession than their opponents on many occasions this season, but they’ve not always turned that in to results.  It’s regularly been a 4-3-3 this season and I see no reason why it would be any different.

Jacob Davenport scored a late equaliser to force a 2-2 draw in the reverse fixture back in December. What’s your score prediction for this one?

I thought they started ever so well at Brentford and were in front until a penalty and a sending off for Darragh Lenihan. They also did really well to stay in the game at 2-1 down before the equaliser. I expect two teams with good attacking players trying to win. I think most people might go for away win, but I’ll go for a score draw.

Friday's game is live on Sky Sports. It can only be watched on that platform. See more here. iFollow Brentford coverage will be audio only

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