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Preview: Blackburn Rovers vs. Burnley

Sports Mole casts its eye forward to Saturday lunchtime's Championship match between Lancashire rivals Blackburn Rovers and Burnley.

Saturday's Championship action all kicks off with a lunchtime Lancashire derby as Blackburn Rovers welcome Burnley to Ewood Park.

Blackburn have improved of late to edge away from the drop zone, while Burnley are fifth and one of the early promotion contenders.


Blackburn

Jordan Rhodes (L) of Blackburn Rovers in action with Jason Shackell of Derby County during the Sky Bet Championship match between Blackburn Rovers and Derby County at Ewood Park on October 21, 2015 in Blackburn, England.© Getty Images

They are hardly clear of the bottom three, but Blackburn's results have been better in recent weeks with just one defeat in six to climb up to 17th, two points clear of 22nd-placed Charlton Athletic.

That loss was a bad one, though, as they went down 3-0 on Saturday to give MK Dons, one of the seven sides below them, their first win in eight.

Bowyer's boys had a chance to atone for that defeat last night and although they failed to score again in a goalless draw at home to Derby County, who had won five of six and scored nine in their last three, was a vast improvement.

Last night's result made it four clean sheets in a row at home and Rovers have not been beaten at Ewood Park since they went down on the opening weekend of the season to Wolverhampton Wanderers.

No Championship side has kept more home clean sheets than Blackburn this season and only Middlesbrough and Reading (2) have conceded fewer goals in front of their own fans.

Going forward, Blackburn must take the lead in games more often if they are to push towards the top half. They are one of four sides with a league-low 25% rate of bagging the first goal.

Recent form: DWDWLD


Burnley

Andre Gray of Burnley battles with Ryan Mendes of Nottingham Forest during the Sky Bet Championship match between Nottingham Forest and Burnley at City Ground on October 20, 2015 in Nottingham, England.© Getty Images

If results go their way this weekend, Sean Dyche's Clarets could be up into the top two. Twelve games into the season they sit fifth in the table and are one of three sides with 22 points to their name, six behind runaway leaders Brighton & Hove Albion.

Burnley are unbeaten in three, winning two, and preserved that record thanks to Matt Taylor's last-gasp equaliser at Nottingham Forest on Tuesday night.

Taylor has played in all 12 of Burnley's Championship matches, but Tuesday's was his first start and he will be confident of keeping his place after smashing home the late leveller.

Like Blackburn at home, Burnley have been good away in recent weeks. They are unbeaten in four on their travels, winning two, and have the fifth-best away record in the division.

They will be able to count on plenty of support at Ewood in two days' time, with the 4,500 allocation for Clarets supporters selling out.

Recent form: WDLWWD


Team News

Craig Conway of Blackburn Rovers in action during the Sky Bet Championship match between Blackburn Rovers and Norwich City at Ewood Park on February 24, 2015© Getty Images

Bowyer is hopeful that Craig Conway can return after sitting out the visit of Derby with bruising on his foot.

Hope Akpan and Ben Marshall both came off against the Rams, but they are expected to be fit for Saturday's match, with Adam Henley also returning from suspension.

Joey Barton has started the last three matches for Burnley and should continue alongside David Jones in midfield with George Boyd out injured.

Up front, Andre Gray and Sam Vokes should continue, but Rouwen Hennings is pushing for a start.

Blackburn possible starting lineup:
Steele; Henley, Duffy, Hanley, Olsson; Marshall, Akpan, Evans, Conway; Lawrence; Rhodes

Burnley possible starting lineup:
Heaton; Darikwa, Duff, Keane, Mee; Arfield, Jones, Barton, Taylor; Vokes, Gray


Head To Head

Blackburn are without a win in four encounters against the Clarets (D3 L1), having won the previous six in a row.

Burnley triumphed in the last meeting 2-1 at Ewood in March 2014 to end a 35-year wait for a win against Rovers.

Local derbies are often feisty and there have been two red cards in the last three league games between these sides.


Sports Mole Logo

We say: Blackburn 1-1 Burnley

Keeping out Derby was a big boost for Blackburn on Wednesday night and Burnley will provide another stern test for Bowyer's side. Three of the last four meetings have finished 1-1 and we see it going that way again.



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Chris Taylor of Blackburn Rovers celebrates as he scores their first and equalising goal with Marcus Olsson as goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski of Swansea City looks dejected during the FA Cup Fourth Round match between Blackburn Rovers and Swansea City at Ewo
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