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Preview: Blackburn Rovers vs. Wolverhampton Wanderers

Sports Mole previews the Championship encounter between Blackburn Rovers and Wolverhampton Wanderers at Ewood Park.

Wolverhampton Wanderers travel to Blackburn Rovers on Saturday afternoon looking to get their season off to a positive start after missing out on the playoffs on goal difference in April.

Blackburn welcome the West Midlands outfit having lost a number of key players during the summer, but with striker Jordan Rhodes still at Ewood Park, they will fancy their chances of picking up a result.

Blackburn Rovers

Blackburn manager Gary Bowyer prior to kick-off against Man City in their FA Cup third round match on January 4, 2013© Getty Images

After finishing in eighth place last season, Blackburn supporters would have been hopeful of their squad being strengthened during the summer, but since June, the club have been hit by a number of departures.

Midfielder Tom Cairney has left for Fulham while front duo Rudy Gestede and Joshua King have made the step to the Premier League with Aston Villa and Bournemouth respectively. The experience of club stalwart David Dunn will also be sorely missed.

The transfer saga involving Rhodes remains an ongoing process but Rovers appear to have won the battle, in the short-team at least, to keep their most prized asset at the club.

So far, Danny Guthrie has been the stand-out buy, but Thursday's acquisition of Nathan Delfouneso strengthens their attacking depth ahead of this weekend's opener.

As far as pre-season results are concerned, four wins have come from fixtures against lower opposition, leaving it hard to gauge what shape they are in.

Nevertheless, belief should be high after getting some victories and goals on the board during their preparations, but they face a considerable step up in class against Wolves, who finished one place above them in the table last season.

Recent form: DLWWDW

Wolverhampton Wanderers

Wolves manager Kenny Jackett looks on prior to the Pre Season Friendly match between Oxford United and Wolverhampton Wanderers at Kassam Stadium on July 29, 2014© Getty Images

Wolves suffered disappointment when they fell agonisingly short of the playoffs in April, but from a long-term perspective, there was nothing but positivity after Kenny Jackett continued to build an impressive unit at Molineux.

Just 12 months after leading the club to the League One title, they were back challenging for promotion to the top flight and the signs are good for more development during the upcoming campaign.

Star man Bakary Sako has departed for Crystal Palace, but the likes of Conor Coady and Adam le Fondre have been brought in to strengthen what is already a strong lineup in midfield and attack.

With Danny Batth still weeks away from a return, the defence looks a little light but a pre-season draw with Aston Villa and netting four times at Doncaster Rovers will fill the club's supporters with plenty of optimism ahead of the new campaign.

Wolves will need to improve their points return away from home to break into the top six - 33 points from 23 games was below par last season - but they have every chance of an improvement if they can keep Benik Afobe and Nouha Dicko fit throughout the year.

Recent form: WWWDDW

Team News

Adam Le Fondre of Cardiff in action during the friendly match between Cardiff City and VFL Wolfsburg at Cardiff City Stadium on August 2, 2014© Getty Images

Le Fondre and Sheyi Ojo, who have both signed for Wolves this week, are likely to earn a place on the bench for the trip to Ewood Park.

Fellow new signing Jed Wallace will not feature after missing much of pre-season through injury, but Kevin McDonald and Jack Price are both fit despite missing the final friendly at Doncaster last weekend.

As for Blackburn, David Raya could get the nod in goal after starting the last two friendlies, while Delfouneso is a likely starter.

Teenager Willem Tomlinson, who has impressed during the last few weeks, may feature on the bench.

Blackburn Rovers possible starting lineup:
Raya, Henley, Hanley, Duffy, Olsson, Marshall, Guthrie, Lowe, Conway, Rhodes, Delfouneso

Wolverhampton Wanderers possible starting lineup:
Ikeme, Iorfa, Golbourne, Stearman, Hause, Henry, Coady, McDonald, Van la Parra, Dicko, Afobe

Head To Head

Rovers and Wolves have a history that stems all the way back to 1888, and during that 127-year period, both teams have claimed 40 victories from 102 meetings.

Wolves completed the double over Blackburn during the 2014-15 campaign, while their unbeaten run has currently reached four games.

Jackett's men have won on their last three visits to Ewood Park, but before that, Blackburn did register four wins and a draw from five contests.

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We say: Blackburn Rovers 2-2 Wolverhampton Wanderers

On the back of impressive efforts during pre-season, both teams will be confident of beginning the new campaign with a win, but with two strong attacks on show, we believe that they will cancel each other out and settle for a point apiece.

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Tim Sherwood, the Aston Villa manager, looks on during the pre season friendly match between Swindon Town and Aston Villa at the County Ground on July 21, 2015
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