Carabao Cup Match Preview: Blackburn (A)
After almost six months without playing a competitive game of football, Doncaster Rovers return to action this weekend as they travel to Ewood Park to take on Blackburn in the Carabao Cup.
Ironically, the game comes a little too soon having been moved up a week due to the international weekend on September 5/6th, meaning Darren Moore has had only four weeks to get a pre-season into his players and bring them up to speed after the longest break without regular training in everyone’s career. The game will be played in an empty stadium as fans are not yet permitted to attend live football, but the powers that be have come together to enable the game be streamed on iFollow for £10.
Rovers Team News: Moore Rolls With It
In an ideal world the team would have had more time to prepare for this one (in a truly ideal world, we’d be four weeks into the season by now having never uttered the words “social distancing”) but Darren Moore will ensure his charges rise to the challenge of facing stern Championship opposition. Rovers have added attacking midfield duo Taylor Richards and Ed Williams to a small squad this week, although fellow triallist Andy Butler is unlikely to be signed up in time to play on Saturday.
Thankfully, there are few injury worries amongst the team although left back Reece James is currently rated 50/50 to make the squad, with the manager stressing that he will not risk him if there is any doubt about the former Sunderland man’s fitness. That paves the way for Danny Amos to keep his place in the side ahead of going on international duty with the Northern Ireland U21s, with the rest of the defensive unit picking itself by virtue of a complete lack of depth at the position.
Rovers will be glad to have captain Ben Whiteman still available despite interest from clubs including opponents Blackburn over the summer months. The midfielder remains a key figure in Moore’s plans and will be wearing the red and white hoops for at least this game, if not the entire 2020/21 season should a significant approach from elsewhere fail to materialise.
Blackburn Team News: Gaps to Plug for Mowbray
Darren Moore is not the only manager left frustrated by the difficulty in getting a squad together with two less weeks before the first game, with Tony Mowbray only landing his first summer signing on Wednesday. Belgian goalkeeper Thomas Kaminski fills an urgent need for the Lancashire side and should go straight in for this cup clash, but established first team players Ryan Nyambe and Sam Gallagher have both been ruled out by injury.
Gallagher’s absence means options are short up front for Blackburn, with young forward Ben Brereton expected to lead the line in a fluid front three flanked by former Newcastle starlet Adam Armstrong and one-time Germany international (and sometimes rapper!) Lewis Holtby. The squad is thin but still full of experienced quality, with the likes of Derrick Williams and former Leeds midfielder Bradley Johnson among the senior players likely to feature.
The relative lack of defensive options may work in Moore’s favour this weekend now he has bolstered his attacking ranks, with Elliott Bennett likely to deputise at right back and with Kaminski only just meeting his new teammates that could also factor in to what is sure to be an unpredictable encounter at Ewood.
The last meeting between these sides was a memorable one for Blackburn, who earned promotion from League One thanks to Charlie Mulgrew’s goal in a 1-0 win at the Keepmoat in April of 2018. Tony Mowbray’s side tasted humbling defeat in the previous meeting at Ewood Park however, as goals from John Marquis, James Coppinger and Alfie May earned a memorable 3-1 win for Darren Ferguson’s underdog Reds in August 2017.
This will be the second League Cup meeting between the sides, with Blackburn winning 4-2 way back in 1969 in a Second Round encounter as told in our Reliving Rovers series; Steve Briggs and Stuart Robertson got on the scoresheet for Lawrie McMenemy’s Reds that night.
A debut beckons for goalkeeper Joe Bursik whilst Jason Lokilo is in line for his first start in a Rovers shirt. Ed Williams may also feature but could have to settle for a place on the bench, as might Brighton loan prospect Taylor Richards, although both could be useful impact substitutes.