It has been an excellent season so far for Blackburn Rovers.
With 12 wins and 42 points from their 23 league games so far, Tony Mowbray’s side go into their clash with Barnley at Ewood Park tonight third in the Championship table.
This season therefore, represents a big chance for Rovers to mount a push for promotion back to the Premier League.
But with January now just a few days away, how could the imminent transfer window impact on the options Mowbray has available to call upon during the second half of the campaign?
Here, we’ve taken a look at what Blackburn’s starting XI could look like in early February, once their January business has all been completed.
For a number of reasons, you would expect Rovers’ starting XI to look rather similar to what it does now.
Although the likes of Aberdeen striker Ryan Hedges, Hearts captain John Souttar and Zulte Waregem centre back Cameron Humphreys-Grant, those deals look set to be pre-contract agreements, meaning they would not be added to the lineup until the summer.
Given their position, it is also hard to see Blackburn letting any of their own soon to be out of contract players leaving in January, considering the importance those individuals have to their promotion push.
In goal, Blackburn have the option of extending Thomas Kaminski’s contract by a further 12 months, with his current deal set to expire in the summer, so the Belgian should continue between the posts in February and beyond.
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Rovers have started to employ a three at the back system this season, and with Brighton loanee Jan Paul van Hecke seemingly set to see out the season at Ewood Park, he should stay alongside Scott Wharton and captain Darragh Lenihan – one of those around who Blackburn have contract concerns – in the coming months, with the trio establishing a hugely effective defensive wall in recent weeks.
At right-back, Joe Rankin Costello’s extended lay-off with injury means Blackburn can ill-afford to let Ryan Nyambe go in January despite his contract being another that expires in the summer.
Summer signing Harry Pickering meanwhile, looks to have made the left-wing-back role very much his own since his arrival at Ewood Park, so he should retain his place on that side of the defence.
In the centre of the park, despite his contract being another around which Rovers have issues to sort, Joe Rothwell – whose links with Rangers appear to have died down since Steven Gerrard’s departure from Ibrox for Aston Villa – has formed part of a seemingly undroppable midfield three alongside Lewis Travis and John Buckley.
One change we could see is upfront, where Rovers could revisit a deal for Josh Maja. A loan deal for the Bordeaux striker fell through on the final day of the summer transfer window due to fitness issues, but Rovers could reportedly reignite their interest in January, should a the forward be able to prove his fitness.
If Maja was to arrive, he would surely partner top scorer Ben Brereton Diaz in attack for Rovers. With the club holding the option to extend the 22-year-old’s contract until the end of next season, it is hard to see the club being willing to let him go in January.
Beyond that, the likes of Sam Gallagher, Tyrhys Dolan and another Brighton loanee in Reda Khadra, are also available to help lead the line if a deal for another striker such as Maja is not agreed.