Blackburn Rovers are having a very good season in the FA Cup. In fact, they held Liverpool to a 0-0 draw at Anfield on Sunday and forced a replay in Lancashire. Sound familiar? Bolton Wanderers did the same thing to the Merseyside club two rounds ago in the same competition. But does anyone remember what happened in between those glorious cup ties? I don't blame you if you blocked the memory out, because Bolton go absolutely shellacked following their trip to Anfield. Will the same thing happen to Rovers this week? We can only hope.
The only questions that really matter for Neil Lennon on Wednesday night are: a) Who is fit? b) Who is available? In the former category, we are likely to have striker Craig Davies returning after another lengthy absence. Also joining him could be goalkeeper Andy Lonergan, who looks to be free of concussion symptoms. That said, you never can tell with head injuries. His chances of making the trip up the A666 are probably about 50/50. Emile Heskey is also trying to get back for Wednesday, although Saturday's match with Millwall seems the more likely return for him.
The good news about those three players in particular returning? None of them are here on loan. If Lennon manages to complete the deal with Crystal Palace for defender Paddy McCarthy that will give us nine players on loan. You can only have five in a match day squad. And that brings us to our question of availability. Ben Amos will be in the squad without a doubt. Same with Barry Bannan and Adam Le Fondre. There was some debate on Twitter, but it is hard to imagine that Saidy Janko won't feature, and that is four out of five. So, Giles Coke, Simeon Slavchev, Rochinha, etc., good luck.
The loan market does give us a benefit as well. Blackburn's best player on Sunday was none other than central defender Alex Baptiste. And since Baptiste is on loan from us, he is ineligible to play Wednesday night. He has helped Rovers to a solid, yet unspectacular season. The club currently sit 11th in the Championship, with 48 points from 35 matches. They have scored 45 goals and allowed 45 goals. Sadly, Bolton fans may be a bit envious.
Bolton Wanderers are 17th in the table, with 41 points from 35 matches. We've scored 43 goals, but let in 54. Only four sides in the division have let in more. Writing those sentences just depressed me a bit. Given Bolton's horrible away form, plus Blackburn's exhaustion, this could be a pretty dire 0-0. I predicted a 2-1 Bolton win in the podcast, but I am wavering. At any rate, it is hard to imagine it being an enjoyable show for the neutral supporter.