Blackburn Rovers have enjoyed a fairly successful past week in the Championship, which has raised their potential hopes of mounting a play-off push during the rest of the season.
Tony Mowbray’s side managed to bounce back from their first home defeat since September, when they were beaten 1-0 by Fulham a few weeks ago at Ewood Park, with Rovers securing back to back wins against Hull City and at Charlton Athletic in their last two matches.
Those back to back wins have seen Rovers move to within just three points of the play-off places, and they will be looking to take their recent form into the next few weeks, which if they can manage to do will put them in a strong place to mount a promotion challenge.
Here then, we take a look at FOUR Blackburn talking points following what was a hectic week of Championship football…
Can Rovers defy the odds to reach the play-offs?
When Blackburn fell to a 3-2 defeat at Nottingham Forest on New Year’s Day it saw Mowbray’s side extend their winless run to four Championship matches, and it looked highly unlikely then that they would be able to challenge for promotion this term.
That was heightened by the fact that Rovers have suffered a host of injuries to some of their key attacking players, with the likes of Lewis Holtby, Bradley Dack and Joe Rothwell all amongst those to be out through injury during the last few weeks.
However, Mowbray’s side have managed to improve their form and find solutions to those injuries, which has enabled them to climb up the table and reduce the gap to the top six, meaning they are in with a realistic chance of forcing a promotion push this term.
You’ll never score 13/13 on this Blackburn Rovers quiz!
Stewart Downing continues to impress
Downing has unquestionably been an excellent signing for Blackburn since he made the move to Ewood Park in the summer, with the versatile former England international offering some vital extra quality to Mowbray’s side throughout the campaign.
The 35-year-old’s importance to Rovers has been even more evident over the last few weeks, with Downing able to provide cover in midfield, as well as out wide and even at left-back, which has seen him provide cover during Blackburn’s recent rising injury problems.
Mowbray has spoken about how he would normally have been reluctant to play Downing in three consecutive matches within the space of a week, but the 35-year-old continues to defy his age and keeps producing excellent performances with each passing week as the season progresses.
Dominic Samuel reminds Rovers of his worth
Samuel has endured a largely frustrating campaign so far, with the striker struggling to really force himself into Mowbray’s starting line-up for much of the season, but during the last two matches against Hull and Charlton, he has offered a reminder to Rovers of the potential qualities he can provide when selected.
The forward has struggled to really make an impact for Rovers since he suffered an ACL injury at the start of last season, but he was able to register his first league goal of the campaign off the bench against Hull – and that was also his first goal since an FA Cup meeting with Crewe back in December 2017.
The striker’s performance from the bench against Hull was rewarded with a rare start against Charlton on Saturday, and Samuel was able to offer something different for Rovers against Lee Bowyer’s side, which will have reminded Mowbray that the forward can potentially have an important role to play between now and the end of the campaign.
Rovers looking more resilient than ever
This last week has demonstrated that Rovers certainly have the character and resilience needed to maintain their recent momentum, with Blackburn showing a renewed belief and confidence that they have the ability to come out of matches with a positive result despite them being without some of their key players.
The fact that Blackburn have been able to record back to back clean sheets, having kept just one in their previous eight Championship matches, shows that Mowbray’s side are beginning to become a really tough prospect for opposing sides to break down and play against.
That suggests that although their attacking output might suffer during the rest of the season, without both Holtby and Dack, they have enough about them defensively to ensure that they still have a platform for picking up results on a regular basis.