Blackburn Rovers have started their season in a promising fashion, going unbeaten in eight of their opening 11 games of the Championship season and keeping themselves in contention for a top-six spot as things stand.
Their two recent away losses against Huddersfield Town and Blackpool must be a real source of frustration for manager Tony Mowbray, but the international break has come to rescue them and they will now be hoping to get back on track during the interval.
After seeing Adam Armstrong leave for Premier League outfit Southampton in the summer, after scoring an incredible 28 second-tier goals for Rovers during the 2021/22 season, they could have easily crumbled, especially after seeing no striker come in to replace the 24-year-old.
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The departure of Harvey Elliott back to parent club Liverpool was also a blow. He may not have been in the goals as much as Armstrong, but he still recorded 18 goal contributions in 41 appearances and was an instrumental part of the Lancashire outfit’s squad last term.
One man who has stepped up to the plate is Ben Brereton Diaz, who registered 12 goal contributions last season but has already scored ten times in 11 Championship displays in 2021/22 so far, an exceptional record and one that he can be proud of.
We won’t give you a prize if you can correctly guess if the Chile international is in this lineup or not, but we have selected ten other players who join him as we pick our Blackburn Rovers’ best starting XI from what we’ve seen so far this season.
In goal, it can’t be anyone but Thomas Kaminski. He will be keen to continue impressing after being called up late to Belgium’s European Championships squad – and could potentially be crucial in making match-winning saves throughout the remainder of the campaign.
The back four also picks itself. Ryan Nyambe is an exciting little player and the likes of Darragh Lenihan and Daniel Ayala have helped to provide experience and leadership in what is a very young Blackburn Rovers squad.
The latter has also contributed at the other end of the pitch, scoring twice in 11 appearances and may grab a few more before next May.
Lewis Travis joins Joe Rothwell at the heart of midfield, with the former displaying captain-like qualities according to his manager. With a squad as young as Rovers’, that can only be a good thing and at 23, you could certainly see him as a future captain at Ewood Park.
One player who may not be in Lancashire for the long term is 19-year-old Tyrhys Dolan, who has recorded three contributions so far this season and has become a key player in the Championship.
It would be a major surprise if he didn’t make the step up to the Premier League at some point, but he would benefit from having at least one or two more seasons with Tony Mowbray before moving on, if the Lancashire side fail to get promoted themselves.
21-year-old John Buckley has also stepped up well to fill the void left by the likes of Armstrong and Elliott attack, but the main man here is Ben Brereton Diaz.
He was decent last season, but he’s been different gravy this term and you can tell how much more confident he’s become after becoming something of a cult hero for Chile, starring in a Pepsi advert during the summer.
The 22-year-old has less than 12 months on his contract at Ewood Park, and with his representatives stalling on a deal at this stage, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him make the step up to the Premier League if he can retain some consistency. He has been unbelievably lethal in front of goal, scoring six goals in his last three second-tier games.
Something who hasn’t been as lethal is Sam Gallagher, but he’s still done reasonably well with three goals in nine appearances and deserves to start up top for the time being. Like Brereton Diaz, consistency will be vitally important for the 26-year-old, who will be hoping to get into double figures in the Championship this season.