Premier League action returns this weekend, although despite the lack of domestic football, there has been plenty of news to distract the Rovers faithful. Talk of injuries, a striker crisis and mooted departures has had fans deliberating everyday.
The injury problems seem to have been a central theme in the break from domestic games whilst our national side meekly flattered to deceive before characteristically capitulating.
The first warning alarms were sounded with the news that leading scorer and immediate fans favourite, Roque Santa Cruz could be ruled out for anything up to six weeks with tendinitous in the knee. Death Con Five was reached (well by Hughes Da Man anyway) with the news that Matt Derbyshire could accompany Santa in the injury suite.
Alas, these fears have been allayed with the remarkable news that both could be fit for Saturday`s game.
However, Mark Hughes may prefer want-away striker (depending on which sources you believe) Maceo Rigters.
The outcome of all these words is that we could have had most of our strikers out but we don`t. Some would say I have unnecessarily verbosely spouted out a load of verbiage.
Still, I`m here to write and write I shall.
Last season`s corresponding fixture was an enthralling tale that, if in a Hollywood film would represent a nerve shredding can`t look away, French Connection-esque car chase.
The 3-3 final outcome was a fair representation of two teams playing open and attacking football and the perfect way to end their campaign.
Will Saturday`s game be of similar nail-biting entertainment? For Rovers fans perhaps.
Things haven`t been going as well for Reading this season as second season syndrome evoked a certain early season paralysis. However, they have managed to turn things around in recent weeks but come to Ewood to face a side fresh from the break and four straight wins before.
My bet is there will be goals but more than the rudimentary two for Rovers.
Hughes on the promising start: “We know that if we win and other results go for us then we could edge up another place or so and that is a great incentive. We are delighted with our start, something like 15 games and 10 wins makes good reading, but we cannot afford to just stand back and admire what we have done.“
Hughes on last season`s game: ‘They are a very good side and we had a great game (3-3) here with them on the final day of last season. They played some great stuff and it won’t be easy tomorrow, anything but.‘
Blackburn Rovers Team News:
Rovers have been severely boosted this week after receiving a glut of bad news last week. Club captain, Ryan Nelsen is expected to return after missing the last five games with a hamstring injury and he is likely to be joined by Robbie Savage.
Also making the squad is Matt Derbyshire and remarkably, Roque Santa Cruz, who has responded tremendously well to treatment. This gives Hughes an abundance of options going into Saturda`s game. The return to form, well on the strength of his substitute appearance last time out, of Benni McCarthy will also give Hughes food for thought.
Steven Reid is making sound progress according to Hughes but isn`t yet able to make the step up to first team duties.
Rovers from: Friedel, Enckelman, Emerton, Nelsen, Samba, Ooijer, Warnock, Bentley, Dunn, Savage, Pedersen, Santa Cruz, McCarthy, Derbyshire, Tugay, Mokoena, Rigters, Khizanishvili, Olsson, Brown.
Player to watch: Benni McCarthy
He has had an indifferent start to his follow up campaign and some quarters have already labeled him a one season wonder, but the only truth in that statement is the wonder in his ability. The swagger and hunger was accompanied by the skillful brilliance that has become a requisite of his game during his time at Ewood. He will have a big part to play against Reading on Saturday and will be looking to add to his two goals in two games against them. Although, Rovers fans will be hoping the linesman keeps his flag down this time!
Reading Team News:
Reading have a number of players out but have been boosted by some potential returns. Shane Long is fit to play as is Ibrahima Sonko, who has been absent since January.
However, Bobby Convey (thigh), John Oster (ankle), Glen Little (Achilles) Kalifa Cisse (knee) won`t feature.
Reading from: Hahnemann, Federici, Murty, Ingimarsson, Duberry, Sonko, Bikey, Shorey, Rosenior, Harper, Gunnarsson, Fae, Hunt, Doyle, Kitson, Lita, Long, de la Cruz, Halls, Golbourne.
Player to watch: Kevin Doyle
He picked up his first goal of the season in the last match so will have his eye for goal back. He was a striker who enjoyed a promising start to Premiership life last season but failed to sustain it at times. He is wily, pacey and a threat in the area, cleaning up from Dave Kitson`s flick on’s.
Match Facts & Stats
This will be Steve Coppell’s 200th game in charge of Reading. He has done a fine job since over-taking from Alan Pardew.
Rovers have played more games than any other Premiership team this season yet, along with Aston Villa, have fielded the least amount of players, 17.
Rovers are the second least entertaining side with their eight games only producing 15 goals.
Whereas Rovers are quite water-tight Reading have the second worse defence in the division.
Andre Marriner is the man in the middle. He has already officiated one Rovers game, the opening day win at Middlesbrough.
Could this be the day when Rovers click in attack and the goals flow? Well, it wouldn’t be beyond the furthest realms of possibility. Confidence is high in the camp at the moment following four straight wins and if we can deploy our normal game and take more of our earlier chances then we will be in for a strong possibility of winning the game well. If Benni is firing and Gamst can return to form then I fancy our attacking play will be too much for their slow defence. Rovers to break the 2-1 hoodoo and win by an extra goal this time, 3-1.