Preview: Blackburn Rovers vs. Cardiff City

Preview: Blackburn vs. Cardiff
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Sports Mole looks ahead to the domestic season opener between Blackburn Rovers and Cardiff City at Ewood Park on Friday night.

After a busy summer of sport, the new Football League season is already upon us, with Blackburn Rovers and Cardiff City getting the 2014-15 campaign underway at Ewood Park on Friday night.

Both teams have pre-season expectations of promotion, with Blackburn having finished just two points off the playoffs last season and Cardiff coming down from the Premier League.

The hosts have been troubled by a sickness bug over the last few days, but that is expected to have cleared by the time they line up against the Bluebirds, giving Gary Bowyer a fully-fit squad to choose from.

The Rovers boss will be keen to carry some momentum over from the end of last season, when he saw his side go 12 matches without defeat to make a late surge for the top six.

They have also remained unbeaten throughout pre-season, although they go into Friday's match having drawn their last four outings.

Summer signings Chris Brown and Alex Baptiste could both make their debuts at Ewood Park, with the former having made good progress in his recovery from a knee injury.

While Blackburn ended last season on a high, Cardiff manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer must pick his team up having been relegated from the top flight.

Three points in the season opener would be a perfect way to do that, as well as helping to confirm their status as one of the early favourites for the title.

However, the visitors do have limited resources at the back, with Juan Cala still suspended, Ben Turner out through injury and Steven Caulker having left the club.

That means that Matt Connolly is likely to partner Mark Hudson in the centre of defence, although the latter has also been struggling with injury of late.

Solskjaer must also make do with fewer options further up the field as Jordon Mutch has joined Queens Park Rangers and Gary Medel is on the verge of a move to Inter Milan.

Another key player, Craig Noone, is out with a groin injury, but new signing Tom Adeyemi could go straight into the squad having completed his move on Thursday.

Other players who could be in line for a debut include Nicky Maynard, Adam Le Fondre, John Brayford and Kagisho Dikgacoi as a new-look Cardiff aim to get off to a winning start.

Recent form

Blackburn: WWDDDD

Cardiff: LDWWWD

Possible starting lineups

Blackburn: Robinson; Baptiste, Hanley, Kilgallon, Spurr; Conway, Evans, Lowe, King; Cairney; Rhodes

Cardiff: Marshall; Brayford, Hudson, Turner, Fabio; Whittingham, Gunnarsson, Dikgacoi, Kim; Le Fondre, Maynard

Sports Mole says: 1-2

Who will win Friday's match between Blackburn Rovers and Cardiff City?

Blackburn
Cardiff
Draw
Blackburn
48.7%
Cardiff
37.8%
Draw
13.5%
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer manager of Cardiff City prior to the Barclays Premier League match between Cardiff City and Fulham at Cardiff City Stadium on March 8, 2014
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