CRAIG Hignett has warned Blackburn Rovers’ Champ-ionship rivals not to rule Henning Berg’s men out of the promotion race just yet – after insisting they still have the firepower to cause some damage.
The former Rovers and Middlesbrough striker will see his former clubs do battle at the Riverside this afternoon and expects both sides to be in the promotion mix over the next few months.
Hignett admits he has been shocked by Rovers’ poor start to the season, as they travel to the Riverside on Wednesday, but believes they have the potential to quickly climb the table.
Hignett said: “I did expect Blackburn Rovers to be much higher up the Championship than they are, and I don’t think I was the only one.
“We all know that things have been far from right behind the scenes but you look at some of names in Rovers squad and they have some players capable of performing very well in this league.
“It doesn’t look good for them at the moment but things can change very quickly and that sort of gap can easily be closed.
“Rovers have the type of players who could easily get on a run and you get the feeling once they find their feet in this league – if they do – they could quickly get some momentum.”
Hignett, who played for Rovers between 2000 and 2003 and Middlesbrough between 1992 and 1998, didn’t expect the latter to be 11 points ahead of the former at this stage of the season.
But he believes seeing Rovers, Wolves and Bolton – last season’s Premier League relegated sides – shows how tough the Championship can be to adapt.
He said: “I’m not sure anyone would have predicted where those three teams are at the moment.
“It just shows how difficult the Championship is. All three are obviously struggling to adapt to the Championship but that doesn’t mean they won’t be able to, it just means it is taking longer than they hoped.
“All three of them will expect to be involved in the play-off battle at least come the end of the season and none will believe the gap is unbridgable.
“I think it was Blackpool in the season they got promoted to the Premier League who came from nowhere. They got on a great run in the second half of the season, got into the play-offs and went up.
“I see no reason why Rovers can’t do that. That is providing they sort things out off the pitch of course.”
A former team-mate of Henning Berg’s at Rovers, Hignett is disappointed to see the Ewood boss struggling in his new role.
Rovers travel to Middlesbrough with just one win in nine games under Berg, but Hignett insists Berg can still be a success in East Lancashire.
“It is a difficult job for anybody,” he said. “While I believe they have good players, they maybe haven’t been run in the right way over the past couple of years.
“Henning was always the sort of player who you expected to go into management when he retired and it is good to see him back at Blackburn Rovers.
“He needs everyone at the club pulling in the right direction and he needs people at the club to allow him to manage.
“Every manager at every football club deserves that because otherwise there is no point in being there.
“You hear lots of things that are supposedly going on at the club behind the scenes but I don’t know what is true and what isn’t. Only the people involved know that.
“All I know is Rovers is still a very good football club and are experiencing some tough times at the moment. I just hope by the end of the season they have sorted things out.”