Blackburn Rovers manager Tony Mowbray has lamented the timing of the anterior cruciate ligament suffered by key scorer Bradley Dack in their recent draw with Wigan.
Dack was stretchered off midway through the second half of that stalemate on the 23rd December, with Blackburn playing twice in the six days immediately after that, drawing at home to Birmingham before seeing an eight-game unbeaten run come to an end with a 2-1 defeat at Huddersfield on Sunday afternoon, seemingly highlighting the blow Dack’s injury has hit the side with.
Speaking about the impact the loss of Dack – who is Rovers’ top scorer this season with ten goals in all competitions – has had on his side, Mowbray told the Lancashire Telegraph: “I think you have taken goals out of the team, that’s the main thing. The question is where are the goals going to come from?
“In my opinion, Bradley Dack would have undoubtedly got another eight, 10, 12 goals from now until the end of the season.
“I think Bradley Dack would have scored that skirmish around the six-yard box in the first half before we scored because he has that natural instinct to be where the ball is in the six-yard box to score.
“That’s the challenge for us. People have to step up to the mark for us.”
Discussing how his side will need to adapt to the loss of their talisman, it seems Mowbray feels the heavy schedule has not helped his side in that sense, with the Rovers boss adding: “Whether we play with a No.10 or go with two strikers, we’ll have to wait and see.
“We’ve had no time to adjust to it, other than doing our recovery work and then walking through some shape the day before a game.”
That is not something that looks set to change any soon however, with Rovers set to travel to the City Ground on New Year’s Day to face Nottingham Forest, before taking on Championship rivals Birmingham in the third round of the FA Cup the following weekend, and explaining how his side will cope with that challenge, Mowbray continued: “After the cup match against Birmingham we’ll have more time to work with the players on the grass and have a better idea of the options that we’ve got.”
Following that defeat at Huddersfield, Blackburn go into the clash with Forest 13th in the Championship standings, although they are still just three points adrift of the play-off places at the start of the new year.
You can certainly understand what Mowbray is saying here.
Dack has been the fulcrum around which Rovers have operated for so long now, so playing without him was never going to be something they were going to adjust to easily.
That is something that does appear to have been evident in those two games since his injury, and Rovers will hope that is simply a case of a lack of time to prepare for those last two games, lest they face the prospect of slipping down the table in the second half of the campaign.
Even so, one benefit of the timing of Dack’s injury – if you can call it that – is that it has at least come just before the January transfer window, rather than after it, meaning Rovers can explore the option of recruiting a replacement for their talisman, should they wish to do so.