Rovers travel to Holland in the next part of their European adventure looking to maintain their winning record.
Rotterdam is the destination as Rovers take on an under-performing Feyenoord side who have only recently hit top form in the Eredivisie.
In a comparative nature the two clubs could not be further apart when considering form. Rovers have failed to win in their last five league outings whereas Feyenoord can`t stop winning. However, the clubs continue to be poles apart, only this time in Europe where Rovers proudly sit on top spot in the group. Feyenoord for all of their European experience have failed to get going this term and will be eagerly aiming to rectify that on Thursday.
If Rovers can win then they will automatically qualify for the next round of Europe`s second competition. One person who knows all about winning at the De Kuip is manager Mark Hughes. He scored both goals for Manchester United as they defeated Barcelona on this ground 15 years ago to win the Cup Winners Cup. He will be hoping for a similar outcome at the final whistle.
Another player familiar to these parts is the reinvigorated Brett Emerton. Rovers signed the flying Aussie back in 2003 as a winger, but his former employers won`t be surprised to see him lining up at full-back on Thursday as he was often deployed in a similar role for Feyenoord.
Mark Hughes on Feyenoord: “They will be on a high after a good result against a good team. The stadium has been revamped since I was last there but it remains a place to play your football.“
Hughes on Gamst`s broken rib: “He`s going to get some discomfort but, if he needs injections for games, we`ll give them to him.
Hughes on EURO form: “We hope we’ll be in a position where we’ll be able to put the game to bed and get the points we need very quickly.
‘We’ve acquited ourselves very well in the Uefa Cup and I think our performance has been good in every game. I think we’ve had difficult ties, they’ve not been easy. So we face another challenge on Thursday, one we’re looking forward to.‘
Feyenoord Team News:
Feyenoord continue to be riddled with injuries much like their maligned English opponents. Stars such as Jonathon De Guzman are likely to be absent again after he missed the weekend victory over Az. A number of other players are only rated as 50-50 as Erwin Koeman decides whether or not to keep faith with the youthful line-up that faced AZ.
Player to watch: Pierre van Hooijdonk
The colourful and experienced Dutchman will be leading Feyenoord`s attack as he has done in recent seasons. His tall and muscular physique ensures he is always a match for any defence.
He has scored goals wherever he has played, even during his ill-fated tenure at Nottingham Forest where he famously went on strike. Despite only scoring once this season he will undoubtedly pose a threat.
His influence has been overshadowed by the emergence of Nicky Hofs, an exciting 23 year old midfielder who leads the clubs scoring charts with five goals. He too will have to be watched.
Blackburn Rovers Team News:
Mark Hughes seems to be developing a worrying defensive headache. Lucas Neill looks likely to miss out again due to a groin strain and he could be joined by Rovers` most recent captain, Andre Ooijer. He is rated only 50-50 after picking up a knock against Spurs. With Stephane Henchoz also missing through ineligibility it could see a temporary reprieve for Andy Todd or Dominic Matteo.
Morten Gamst Pedersen is also struggling with a broken rib but is likely to play through the pain barrier.
Rovers from: Friedel, Brown, Emerton, Khizanishvili, Ooijer, Todd, Gray, McEveley, Bentley, Tugay, Mokoena, Savage, Peter, Pedersen, Nonda, McCarthy, Jeffers, Gallagher.
Player to watch: Brett Emerton
He will be excited about the prospect of returning to the ground where he made his name and come away with a victory. He was held in high regard during his time with the club but will be aiming to help Rovers secure their fourth UEFA win of the season.
Emerton is also without a goal this season so what better place to register your first than against your former employers.
Match Facts & Stats
Feyenoord have played English opposition 20 times before, winning six, drawing four and losing the other ten.
All four of Feyenoord`s European wins against English opposition have come at home; although they have also lost six times in Holland.
This will be Feyenoord`s 97th game in the UEFA Cup.
Thus will be Rovers` 15th game in the UEFA Cup
Rovers have never faced Dutch opposition before in a competitive fixture.
Benni McCarthy and Aaron Mokoena both know what it is like to play at the De Kuip Stadium having lined up for Ajax in the past.
All of the officials are from Germany and the referee is Knut Kircher
This will be a tough game for Rovers but the important thing is they have put their poor losing streak behind them after claiming a draw against Tottenham on Sunday.
Feyenoord are in red-hot form, especially at home and so Rovers will gladly take a point from this fixture. That point will all but guarantee their progression to the next round of the tournament. The side have looked more at home in this competition and with the ever growing influence of Tugay on each European encounter Rovers are always going to pose a threat. 1-1