Blackburn Rovers will be looking for back to back wins to boost their play-off hopes on Saturday afternoon, when they travel to The Valley to face Charlton Athletic.
Following their 3-0 win at home to Hull City on Tuesday night, Tony Mowbray’s side will start the weekend ninth in the Championship table, six points adrift of those all-important top-six spots.
Despite the fact that Charlton are 19th in the Championship table, six points clear of the relegation zone, the Addicks’ confidence-boosting 1-0 win away to promotion-chasing Nottingham Forest in midweek, and their 2-1 win over Blackburn at Ewood Park on the opening day of the season, means Rovers ought to be well aware that they will not be facing an easy task this weekend.
With that in mind, we’ve taken a look at the starting lineup that Mowbray could name to give his side the best possible chance of returning from the capital with all three points.
While Rovers – for what seems like the first time in several weeks – do not have any fresh injuries concerns to deal with, the fact that Sam Gallagher, Joe Rothwell and Joe Rankin-Costello remain sidelined alongside longer-term absentees Bradley Dack, Corry Evans and Lewis Holtby will rather limit Mowbray’s scope to rotate for this one.
In goal, having picked up his tenth clean sheet of the season in the win over Hull, Christian Walton should continue his run of starting every league game for the club this season.
One change Mowbray could be tempted to make is in defence, where after a less convincing performance in that clash against Hull, Amari’i Bell may drop out to give Derrick Williams just a third league appearance since he picked up an injury on international duty with the Republic of Ireland back in November.
Elsewhere in Rovers’ backline, Ryan Nyambe, Darragh Lenihan and Manchester City loanee Tosin Adarabioyo all continue to look solid in their roles in the back four, so should retain their places on Saturday afternoon.
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In midfield, the lack of options brought about by those injuries means that Mowbray has confirmed – despite his reluctance to do so – that he will name veteran midfielder Stewart Downing in a starting lineup for the third time this week at Charlton, something the 35-year-old himself appears to have no qualms about.
Downing will likely start on the left of the midfield at The Valley, to allow Elliott Bennett – who struggled when he started on that side of the pitch against Hull – to return to his more natural position on the right-wing for Rovers.
In the centre of the park, Bradley Johnson’s contribution to Blackburn’s two opening goals on Tuesday ought to have further secured his place in those holding roles alongside Lewis Travis, who seems to have long since cemented himself as one of the first names on the teamsheet under Mowbray.
Upfront, Danny Graham could once again get the nod from the start for Rovers, in the hope that his physical attacking presence can help them make a fast start in the same they did against Hull, before bringing on a pacier option such as Ben Brereton or Dominic Samuel to give a tiring defence a different sort of problem late in the game, a ploy that, either by luck or judgement, worked perfectly in midweek.
Alongside, Graham, Adam Armstrong will surely start again for Rovers, after adding to his catalogue of long-range stunners with his side’s second against Hull, which was also the ninth goal he has either scored or assisted in his last ten games in all competitions.