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Blackburn Rovers will be cautious over Hanley fitness
BLACKBURN Rovers will not risk losing captain Grant Hanley for the rest of the season by playing him at Huddersfield Town today.
Hanley came off as a precaution in Wednesday’s 1-0 home loss to Bournemouth after feeling pain in his hamstring.
A scan has proved no serious damage has been done.
But it is unlikely the centre back will play any part in this afternoon’s clash – not after the return of Matt Kilgallon to full fitness.
Rovers boss Gary Bowyer said: “We are going to give Grant every chance but we are going to have to be sensible.
“The lad is desperate to play but we don’t want to push him too hard and risk losing him for the rest of the season.
“It has improved dramatically since Thursday lunchtime and there is no severe damage there.
“We’ll see how it is in the morning.”
If Hanley – who has only just recovered from a calf strain – does miss out his place will be taken by Kilgallon.
The former Leeds United stopper sat out the defeats to Bournemouth and Burnley with the groin strain he sustained in the 4-0 reverse at Bolton Wanderers.
Bowyer said: “Killa is back in training so that is a massive boost for us.
“His experience at this time will be a big plus.”
If Kilgallon is recalled to the starting line-up he will partner youngster Michael Keane in the heart of the Rovers defence.
Bowyer has been impressed by the performances the 20-year-old has produced since signing on loan from Manchester United last week.
Bowyer said: “We always knew he would be a good player because of the education he’s had at Manchester United but we were quite pleasantly surprised with how well he adapted to the local derby.
“And I thought he continued that on against Bournemouth.
“I think you could see that he’s a footballing centre half and that’s something we’re delighted with.”
Tom Cairney remains sidelined with an ankle injury.
But the key midfielder, whose absence from the Rovers team has coincided with their loss in form, has started running.
Bowyer said: “Tom is still missing but he’s been out jogging today so hopefully that’s the start of him on his recovery.”
Josh King and Dickson Etuhu stepped up their comebacks by playing in last night’s U21s Premier League match at Liverpool.
That means Bowyer could soon have just one long-term absentee in winger Ben Marshall. B
owyer admits the injury problems he has encountered in his first full season in charge is a big reason why he has been unable to name a settled side.
He said: “If they were injuries we could have prevented we would have looked at it and looked at ourselves.
“But the injuries have been blows like ankles.
“That has been frustrating and even more so for the players involved because there’s nothing worse than being injured.
“But it’s part of the game and we’re not going to use it as an excuse.”
Bowyer has five players in on loan – the maximum he is allowed to name in his 18-man matchday squad.
But of the quintet only midfielder Bryan Dabo, signed from Montpellier, has yet to make his maiden first-team appearance.
Bowyer said: “Bryan has got better and better in training and he has the ability to get us a goal. “He’s had time to settle in and we’re hopeful he will push through now.”
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