Blackburn Rovers return to Championship action when they host Charlton Athletic at Ewood Park on Saturday afternoon, with Tony Mowbray’s side looking to build on a promising return to the second tier last season.
After winning promotion back to the Championship at the first time of asking in the 2017/18 campaign, Rovers finished a respectable 15th on their second-tier return the following year.
Now, the Lancashire side will be looking to push on from that, with many around the club talking about the potential for a push towards the play-offs this year.
A positive start against newly promoted Charlton would be a good way for Rovers to begin that campaign at the weekend, and manager Tony Mowbray looks to have plenty of options to choose from as he goes in search of those first three points on Saturday.
Here, we’ve taken a look at who we expect Mowbray to pick for Rovers’ return to action at Ewood Park this weekend.
Although it looks to be a fairly similar side – both in terms of personnel and 4-2-3-1 formation – to the one that was used regularly by Mowbray throughout the course of last season, there are likely to be one or two changes as a result of Rovers’ summer transfer activity.
The first of those changes will be in goal, where the now-departed David Raya – who has joined Rovers’ Championship rivals Brentford – will be replaced by Christian Walton, following the confirmation of his season-long loan move from Premier League Brighton.
In defence, Darragh Lenihan’s performances last season mean he looks to be a certain starter when fit this year, while club captain Charlie Mulgrew is likely to partner the Republic of Ireland international, in order to give Tosin Adarabioyo – who joined on loan from Manchester City earlier this week – the opportunity to settle in more before being thrust into the action.
At left-back, injuries to Derrick Williams and Sam Hart mean Amari’i Bell looks certain to start.
The right-back role meanwhile should be taken by Elliott Bennett, who having featured there at times over the course of last season, could take the lead in that position for the start of this campaign, with Ryan Nyambe having missed a chunk of pre-season after heading off on Africa Cup of Nations duty with Nambia over the summer.
In the holding midfield positions, Lewis Travis – Rovers’ breakout star of the second half of last season – is surely set to start, and the experience of new signing Bradley Johnson alongside will be expected to help develop the hugely promising 21-year-old’s game even further in the coming campaign.
In front of that pair, Rovers’ talisman and top scorer Bradley Dack looks a certain starter in behind the main striker. Out wide meanwhile, the pace of Adam Armstrong – who has enjoyed an impressive pre-season – and creativity of Joe Rothwell, who also enjoyed a strong end to the 2018/19 campaign, means that they too should be more than capable of troubling Championship defences over the course of the season.
Upfront, the return of former loanee Sam Gallagher and encouraging pre-season of Ben Brereton means that there is much more competition for Danny Graham’s spot at the front of Rovers’ attack than there was this time last year.
Even so, having been crowned the club’s Player of the Season at the end of the previous campaign, we expect that the veteran attacker will have enough credit in the bank to start the campaign as Blackburn’s first-choice striker for the time being at least.