Blackburn Rovers manager Tony Mowbray will face one of his former clubs on Saturday, as his side welcome Middlesbrough to Ewood Park.
But despite representing the club in almost 600 games as a player and manager, there will be no room for sentiment for Mowbray this weekend, as Rovers go in search of their first points of the Championship season.
The Lancashire side needed two stoppage-time goals to scrape past League Two Oldham Athletic in midweek, so Mowbray will be expecting a much-improved performance from his side if they are to get anything against the club where he is so revered.
There could, therefore, be a number of changes from the side that took on Oldham in midweek, with Mowbray having made 11 changes for that match, and we’ve taken a look at the lineup that Rovers could name on Saturday here.
While it was far from a vintage performance from Rovers a Tuesday night, we do anticipate there could be a couple of starters from the win who keep their place.
Even so, this season’s number one Christian Walton is likely to regain his place between the posts, after Canadian Jayson Leutwiler had stepped in against Oldham in midweek.
In defence, Greg Cunningham, a deadline day loan signing from Cardiff City, could keep his place having impressed on debut against Oldham. With fellow loanee Tosin Adarabioyo a concern after picking up a knock in last weekend’s defeat to Fulham and Darragh Lenihan having returned to contention after a knee problem, it could be the latter who partners Derrick Williams in the centre of defence.
With both Corry Evans and Richie Smallwood having struggled to impress in midweek, we expect both Bradley Johnson and Lewis Travis to return in the centre of midfield on Saturday.
Having been crucial to Rovers’ second-half fightback after coming off the bench against Oldham on Tuesday, both Bradley Dack and Joe Rothwell will be expected to return to the starting lineup against ‘Boro, with the pair’s performances providing plenty of encouragement for those of a Rovers persuasion.
Despite youngster John Buckley showing plenty of promise in the Oldham clash, we anticipate that the experience, pace and ability of Adam Armstrong will see him brought back into the fold in order to pose as much threat as possible to Middlesbrough’s defence.
In the aftermath of that Oldham win, Mowbray admitted that Danny Graham’s performance at the head of Rovers’ attack has left him contemplating whether or not to start the 34-year-old against his former club on Saturday.
As a result, with summer signing Sam Gallagher currently struggling to make an impact, we’ve gone for Rovers’ Player of the Year last season to keep his starting place from Tuesday night, as Mowbray’s side look to regain that killer instinct they need to get them off the mark in the league on Saturday.