icon_corner icon_start_stop icon_start_stop icon_start_stop icon_post icon_miss icon_save icon_card_red icon_save icon_start_stop icon_sub icon_card_yellow accessibility icon account-off icon account-on icon arrow-left icon arrow-right icon attack icon chevron-down icon chevron-left icon chevron-right icon chevron-up icon Combined Shape Created with Sketch. cross icon defence icon icon_disallowed_goal email icon facebook icon giphy icon google icon instagram icon linkedin icon lock icon messenger icon padlock icon Svg Vector Icons : http://www.onlinewebfonts.com/icon Panel Created with Sketch. Pattern Created with Sketch. pinterest icon Icon_PlayButton Created with Sketch. plus-thin icon plus icon Created with Sketch. Created with Sketch. search icon soundcloud icon sub-in icon sub-out icon tweet icon twitter icon icon_user__out icon_user_out vimeo icon whatsapp icon icon_start_stop youtube icon

First team

Media View: Expert insight on Blackburn


AFC Bournemouth AFC Bournemouth

AFC Bournemouth will be hoping to maintain their promotion push when they host fellow Championship high-fliers Blackburn Rovers on Saturday (3pm kick-off).

The Cherries claimed a valuable share of the spoils when they played their part in an absorbing 1-1 draw with leaders Fulham at Craven Cottage last Friday.

Since suffering a 7-0 defeat at the hands of the Cottagers at Ewood Park at the start of November, Blackburn have remained unbeaten in five games, winning four.

They immediately bounced back from the Fulham reverse by triumphing 3-1 against Sheffield United before drawing 1-1 at Bristol City.

Tony Mowbray’s team arrive at Vitality Stadium on the back of a three-match winning run having beaten Peterborough (4-0), Stoke (1-0) and Preston (1-0).

Leading marksman Ben Brereton has taken his goal tally to 17 in the Championship, netting five times in their recent run. He has also scored twice for Chile in World Cup qualifiers this season.

On their travels, Rovers have won at Nottingham Forest (2-1), Derby (2-1) and Stoke (1-0) and claimed draws against Millwall (1-1), Middlesbrough (1-1), Barnsley (0-0) and Bristol City (1-1).

Ahead of the showdown, afcb.co.uk caught up with Rich Sharpe who follows the fortunes of Rovers for the Lancashire Telegraph.


Ground: Ewood Park

Nickname: Rovers

Head coach: Tony Mowbray (appointed February 2017)

Club captain: Darragh Lenihan

Current league position: Fourth

Leading goalscorer 2021/22: Ben Brereton (19, 17 in Championship, two in World Cup qualifiers)

Last game: Blackburn Rovers 1-0 Preston North End (Championship)

afcb.co.uk: How would you sum up the season so far for Blackburn?

RS: Performing ahead of expectation.

The loss in the summer of top scorer Adam Armstrong, as well as a host of senior players, coupled with very few incomings meant there wasn’t much expectation around.

Last season, they fell well short of where they had hoped to be but, in every way, be it approach, consistency, a settled side, everything about this season feels different.

They’ve been able to lean on their home form and pick up points consistently on the road which has helped their rise up the table.

afcb.co.uk: Is Tony Mowbray always as calm as he seems to come across?

RS: I don’t think referee Gavin Ward would have said so last week when he booked him for his protests at a decision given against Rovers!

But I think the fans actually liked to see that passion from the manager who is otherwise seen as relaxed on the touchline.

Publicly, he is never one to get too high or low with results and is certainly not getting carried away with the recent form.

afcb.co.uk: Have expectations of supporters changed over the past few games?

RS: The supporters have really got behind what is a young team, built heavily around homegrown talent. They’re a likeable group and have rightly received lots of praise.

I wouldn’t necessarily say expectations have changed, more that they see an opportunity on the horizon given what they’ve seen from the rest of the league and bar the top two, arguably three, how open it is.

afcb.co.uk: What’s behind Ben Brereton’s improved goalscoring return?

RS: A combination of confidence and maturity, while his exploits on the international scene have undoubtedly helped.

Post-lockdown, he started showing signs last season of offering more to the team but, last season, the side was largely built around Armstrong who justified that with his 29 goals.

With him now gone, Brereton has been the one to step up and he’s now scoring goals that he previously wouldn’t, last week’s winner against Preston North End a case in point.  

afcb.co.uk: Apart from 19-goal Ben Brereton (pictured above), who is Blackburn’s one to watch?

RS: Joe Rothwell.

There are few players in the division who can travel with the ball like him.

He’s such a smooth mover and travels as fast with the ball as he does without.

He’s starting to add more end product to his play which was always the big question mark next to his name and flourishing in his more favoured central midfield role.

afcb.co.uk: Who is Blackburn’s unsung hero?

RS: Harry Pickering (pictured below).

Rovers have struggled to find a consistent left-back in recent years but he’s proven to be a really consistent performer since arriving from Crewe.

afcb.co.uk: Are any key players either suspended or injured against the Cherries?

RS: There is a doubt over number one goalkeeper Thomas Kaminski who missed out last week with a minor strain to a stomach muscle.

There is a hope he will be fit for the weekend, so too Daniel Ayala and Sam Gallagher who have spent time out of the side in recent weeks.

Ian Poveda, Bradley Dack and Joe Rankin-Costello are all out injured.

afcb.co.uk: What’s your score prediction?

RS: Solanke 1-1 Brereton!

You can follow Rich on Twitter – @richsharpe89

Officials: Simon Hooper (referee), Derek Eaton (assistant), Graham Kane (assistant), Craig Hicks (fourth official).

Breaking News