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Preview: Blackburn Rovers vs. Sheffield Wednesday

Sports Mole previews the Championship clash between Blackburn Rovers and Sheffield Wednesday at Ewood Park.

Paul Lambert will be aiming to build on his impressive start as Blackburn Rovers manager in his second match in charge against Sheffield Wednesday.

Rovers earned a 2-1 win over Preston North End in Lambert's first game in the dugout, but will face a tough task in their clash with the Owls.

Blackburn Rovers

Paul Lambert manager of Aston Villa looks on prior to the Barclays Premier League match between West Bromwich Albion and Aston Villa at The Hawthorns on November 25, 2013© Getty Images

Rovers made the decision to part company with Gary Bowyer after two years in charge at Ewood Park earlier this month, even though the club were not in the relegation zone in the Championship.

Owners Venky's managed to get their primary target in Lambert, who had been out of football since February when he was sacked by Aston Villa, and the Scot had an immediate effect on his team as they secured a 2-1 win over in-form Preston at Deepdale.

Blackburn have failed to nail down a consistent run of form this term, which has left them in the bottom half of the table after 17 matches this season. The club are on a four-match unbeaten run, which has matched their best run of the campaign.

The form of Jordan Rhodes has been crucial to Rovers throughout the campaign as the forward has notched nine goals, more than half of his side's 17 strikes this season.

Defensively the Lancashire club have been one of the best units in the division, conceding just 16 goals in their 17 matches over the course of the campaign. Rovers have kept six clean sheets, including three in their last six games.

Blackburn have struggled to record victories at Ewood Park this season, claiming two wins in their eight matches. Their last defeat came at the hands of bitter rivals Burnley in October, but that was their only loss since the opening day of the season.

Lambert will be determined to improve their record at home to move up into the top half of the Championship and mount a surge towards the playoff places in the New Year.

Recent form: DLWDDW

Sheffield Wednesday

Sheffield Wednesday manager Carlos Carvalhal ahead of the Sky Bet Championship match between Bolton Wanderers and Sheffield Wednesday at Reebok Stadium on September 15, 2015© Getty Images

The Owls proved their credentials as a candidate for promotion to the Premier League by staging a late comeback to defeat Huddersfield Town at Hillsborough.

Wednesday went into their clash against the Terriers off arguably their worst defeat of the season following their 3-1 loss to Charlton Athletic, and Carlos Carvalhal may have feared for his team when they fell behind to Sean Scannell's strike.

However, Lucas Joao scored a late brace and Kieran Lee also got on the scoresheet to guide the Owls to the three points to continue their rise up the table. Wednesday have now won six of their last 11 matches to move into contention for a playoff place after a difficult start to the season.

Carvalhal's men boast the sixth-best record at home in the division as they have claimed five victories from the eight matches, losing just once to Middlesbrough in September.

Their form at Hillsborough has been the foundation for their surge up the table, with 18 of their 27 points coming at home, which has helped make up for the club's mediocre form on the road. Carvalhal will be wary of his team's struggles away from home and will be determined to improve to break into the top six.

Wednesday have been fairly potent in attack with striking duo Fernando Forestieri and Joao notching nine goals between them this season. The team have scored 23 goals over the course of the campaign, which has put them in the middle of the pack in the second tier.

The Owls have not been as stout at the back as they were last season, but they have still managed to keep five clean sheets, three of which have come in their last six games. However, Carvalhal and his men will know that they face a tough test on their trip to Ewood Park.

Recent form: DWWDLW
Recent form (all competitions): WWWDLW

Team News

Tom Lawrence in action for Leicester on January 3, 2015© Getty Images

Lambert has revealed that he will make a late decision on the fitness of Tom Lawrence, who was forced off in his side's win over Preston with a calf injury. Chris Taylor could deputise for the midfielder in the clash at Ewood Park.

Meanwhile, Jason Lowe is still out with a foot injury, but Doneil Henry has been added to the squad after joining the club on loan from West Ham United, although he is unlikely to start against the Owls.

Wednesday will still be without midfielder Sam Hutchinson as he continues to serve his suspension, with Jose Semedo expected to continue in his absence in the centre of the park.

Following his brace against Huddersfield, Joao will likely lead the line after scoring his two goals from the bench last week, which could result in Atdhe Nuhiu dropping out of the team.

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

Sheffield Wednesday possible starting lineup:
Westwood; Hunt, Lees, Lovens, Pudil; Helan, Lee, Semedo, Wallace; Forestieri, Joao

Head To Head

Blackburn won the last encounter between the sides as goals from Adam Henley and Rhodes guided them to a 2-1 victory at Hillsborough.

A last-minute strike from Claude Dielna won the previous clash for Wednesday in their 2-1 win at Ewood Park after Lee saws his opener for the Owls cancelled out by Alex Baptiste.

There is little to separate the sides over the course of history as Rovers have recorded 54 wins in the contest, but the Owls edge them by one game with 55 victories.

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We say: Blackburn 1-1 Sheffield Wednesday

Both teams are in good form in the Championship, while Rovers will be further boosted by the effect Lambert will provide in his first home game. However, the Owls have proven to be a resolute outfit under Carvalhal this season and should have enough to earn them a point in the contest at Ewood.

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Paul Lambert, manager of Aston Villa during the Barclays Premier League match between Hull City and Aston Villa at KC Stadium on October 5, 2013
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