From Blackpool to Blackburn, the Rovers visit the Stadium of Light on New Years Day, and hopefully Darren Bent et al have new boots on this week.
SAFC Team News
At the back, we could be heading for yet another change. Nedum Onouha has had a scan, and while we don’t know the extent of the injury sustained against Blackpool, it doesn’t bode well for him playing against Blackburn. Luckily, we have big Titus Bramble back from his lay-off to take his place at the heart of the defence alongside Anton Ferdinand. In the second half against Blackpool, Brucey shifted Bardsley back to his more natural position of right back, with Kieran Richardson coming in to left-back, although I think that was more to do with Bardsley not being able to handle the pace and trickery of Matt Phillips. I do think that gives us a more balanced defence, but I can’t see that being his starting defence against Blackburn, and fully expect Elmohamady to continue at right back, with Bardo on the left. Gordon continues in goal, that’s a no-brainer.
In midfield, there is a further problem, with Cattermole joining Onouha in the queue for a scan according to Bruce. Cattermole showed no real signs of any problems in the previous game, but obviously you don’t have a scan over nothing, and Bruce himself has said that Catts is ‘very doubtful’. So if we take it our captain is out on Saturday, how do we replace him? I’d think the obvious option would be a fully rested Bolo Zenden, but there’s also the option of Riveros or Richardson. I’d roll with Zenden. Two bad results in a row, and I think we could do with an experienced head in there as the rest of the midfield are all relative youngsters. However I’m no Steve Bruce, and have been wrong on several occasions so far this season!
Our rotund leader has also confirmed that Welbeck is set to be ok for the game, quite a relief from my point of view, as he’s been one of our best players this season. Bent will play, that’s not in question, and despite claims Gyan had an injury, we’ve heard nothing this week, and no news is good news as far as I’m concerned, and he should line-up with Benty up top.
Bruce’s Probable Team:
Gordon; Bardsley, Elmohamady, Ferdinand, Bramble; Henderson, Meyler, Zenden, Welbeck; Bent, Gyan
Gordon; Bardsley, Richardson, Ferdinand, Bramble; Elmohamady, Henderson, Zenden, Welbeck; Bent, Gyan
From the Blackburn side:
With Big Sam gone, and the sexy footballing Steve Kean in charge, Rovers have picked up a few points. An uninspiring draw with West Ham was followed by a battering of West Brom.
However, Rovers have some problems too. I’m not sure we can expect the aerial threat of deposed captain Chris Samba to feature. In addition to this, Michel Salgado picked up his 5th yellow of the season at WBA and will miss out, and striker Nikola Kalinic will miss the game having been sent off in the same game. Promising defender-come-midfielder Phil Jones is also out with a long-term injury. Paul Robinson will also miss-out having sustained a knock and will be replaced by young deputy Mark Bunn in goal.
We will be ‘welcoming’ back to the SoL, El-Hadji Diouf, and he should partner fellow Diouf, Mame Biriam in attack for Rovers.
While we’ve hardly been in scintillating form in the last 2-3 games, I think our boys can come away with a hard-fought victory. Rovers are still surfing the ‘new manager effect’, but it’s about time our strikers got their scoring boots on and shot someone down. Blackburn could well be that team. My prediction is a hard-fought 2-1 win for the lads, with Gyan and Bramble amongst the goals.
Enjoy the game everyone, hope the hangover doesn’t hurt too much. FTM.