Match Preview: Bolton Wanderers v Blackburn Rovers

Clive Brunskill

Bolton are back at the Reebok at the weekend as they host local rivals Blackburn Rovers. We preview what could potentially be one of the most significant Lancashire derbies in years.

After an unusual home victory against Watford last Saturday at the Reebok, morale should be improved as we prepare to face an in-form Blackburn Rovers side. Since their reasonably slow start to the season they've turned it around and are unbeaten in their last 5 games. After their victory at the Madejski stadium Rovers are now in touching distance of the play-offs and a force to be reckoned with.

Despite Blackburn's recent success, Rovers' hit man Jordan Rhodes has been in poor form. His eight game goal drought is alarming considering that he's already scored 16 times this season. Rhodes hasn't found the back of the net in his last 800 minutes of competitive football and we'd hope that he extends that form, especially considering that Zat Knight will be marking him on Saturday.

The Wanderers will be looking to improve on thier performance in the reverse fixture. At the end of August last year we were embarrassed away at Ewood Park. Despite a fine goal from Alex Baptiste a brace from Jordan Rhodes and goals from David Dunn and Corry Evans started what has been a very disappointing season.

Despite this Bolton have had some good results against Blackburn at home in the past. Chris Eagles' dramatic 90th minute winner was enough to seal the 3 points last year whilst a 2-1 victory also came two seasons ago in the wake of Fabrice Muamba's cardiac arrest.

As reported yesterday, Matt Mills will miss the game and possibly a few weeks due to injury. Jermaine Beckford should be fit to face Blackburn after his hamstring against Nottingham Forest last month. Midfielder Darren Pratley is also set to miss out on the derby after he sustained a shoulder injury in the first half of the match against Watford FC last Saturday.

The visitors only have one potential injury issue; Midfielder Tom Cairney suffered damage to his foot against Reading. The 23-year-old hobbled off on the hour mark at the Madejski stadium and was rumoured to have left the stadium wearing a protective boot.

This derby is vital for our season as we need to pick up some momentum. It was our home form which saw us rise up the table during the latter stages of last season.

The Trotters have not recorded back to back wins since November and considering our tricky run of fixtures coming up home form is key to our progress.

Officials

Referee: Paul Tierney

Linesman: Glen Hart and Tony Peart

Fourth Official: Kevin Wright

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